Friday, 21 December 2007

Three Kings

This is my final post of 2007! May I take this opportunity to thank all my readers and sponsors for their continued support.

If I may focus on sponsors for a moment. I’m excited by the type of companies that this blog has been attracting of late! DK books are worthy of particular mention for providing fabulous competition prizes. If you’re interested in getting your message out to my readership you can contact me here.

Don't miss Doctor Who: The Voyage Of The Damned on Christmas Day!

I wanted to wish you all a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and a Festive Festivus. I hope that 2007 was a good year for you and that 2008 will be even better. I'll be back in the New Year...

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Blu-ray Sale

If ever there was any doubt that consumers were most reluctant to part with their money this Christmas, the early 'January Sales' should silence the nay sayers! Both online and offline retailers have started sales campaigns in earnest! Considerable discounts are available for savvy shoppers...

Stock up on a top class selection of Blu-ray titles in Amazon.co.uk's 3 for 2 promotion, where you can pick three titles and get the cheapest one free! Just add three qualifying titles and the discount will be applied automatically at checkout.

The Blu-ray format is designed to bring out pristine picture clarity and the crispest sound, so that horror titles like Hostel and The Exorcism of Emily Rose become more real and action flicks such as Layer Cake, Casino Royale and Spider-Man 3 seem like they're bursting right out of your screen. Have a browse and start building up your Blu-ray collection now!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Platinum Bells

The following is taken from the EU PlayStation site (subsequently removed)! However, it's a safe bet that Blu-ray Profile 1.1 will be available this side of Christmas!

An update to the PS3 system software was released on December 18, 2007. If you update your PS3 system, the system software version will be 2.10 and the following features will be updated. In order to download PS3 system software version 2.10, you will need a minimum 120Mb of free space on either the PS3 Hard Disk Drive (System Update) or on removable storage media (PC Update).

The PLAYSTATION 3 system software version 2.10 update includes the following:

* Voice Changer

The Voice Changer feature has been added to voice / video chat. Visit the Voice Changer guide in Help & Support under PS3 at eu.playstation.com for more details.

Using this feature, you can change the tone of a voice that is input from an audio device such as a microphone. High and low-pitched tones can each be adjusted to five preset levels. You can vary the tone when using voice / video chat under Friends.

Other new or revised features in version 2.10

Music

* You can now select [Type 3] as an option under Settings > [Music Settings] > [Bitmapping]. This bitmapping process was developed specifically for the PS3TM system to enhance audio playback.

Video

* DivX and VC-1 (WMV) have been added to the types of files that can be played. *
* Blu-ray Disc Profile 1.1 is now supported. **
* [BD Data Utility] has been added. ***

*
- To play VC-1 (WMV) format files, you must go to Settings > [System Settings] and set [Enable WMA Playback].
- Copyright-protected files or files that were encoded by using DivX 3.11 cannot be played. - Files that are 2GB or more cannot be played.
** You may now be able to use several additional features such as playback of two videos at the same time with Profile 1.1-compatible Blu-ray Discs. The available features vary depending on the disc.
*** The management data that is used by the Blu-ray Disc is saved.

Note:

* This system software update includes all features contained in previous versions.
* The new system software will preserve any settings previously made to the PLAYSTATION 3. Depending on the software title, you may not be able to play without first updating the PS3 system software.
* Do not perform updates using any data other than the official update data provided by Sony Computer Entertainment over a network or on disc media, and do not perform updates by methods other than those described in the product documentation or in this site. If an update is performed using data from another source, by another method, or with a PS3 system that has been altered or modified in any way, the PS3 system may not operate properly and may not be able to install the official update data. Any of these actions may void the PS3 system warranty and affect your ability to obtain warranty services and repair services from Sony Computer Entertainment.

This is a neat little patch for Sony right before Christmas, and helps to even the field yet again between the two competing HD next generation consoles as they vie for a place under the trees of good little gamers. The arms race continues...

Friday, 14 December 2007

Wii Raincheck

Nintendo has decided to pull all UK television advertising spots for its most sought after Wii due to serious stock shortages! Perhaps Nintendo of Europe should take a leaf out of their counterpart's book across the pond?

To help assuage consumers' complaints that they can't find a Wii, Nintendo of America announced this morning that they will begin a 'Wii Raincheck' program. If you pay in full for a Wii before Christmas, you can get a raincheck that you'll be able to redeem for a Wii in January.

Fils-Aime said that the program will be run entirely through retailer GameStop, who he says has "many tens of thousands" of certificates.

The program, says Fils-Aime, is for people who want "something to put under the tree."

"A certificate needs to be matched to a specific Wii which needs to be matched to a specific store. Only this retailer has the ability to pull off such a program," said Fils-Aime in regards to why GameStop will be the exclusive partner for this initiative.

Reggie Fils-Aime also said this morning that Wii will be available this weekend in many stores, advertised in circulars for Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.

The 'Wii Raincheck' program recalls Kenner's Early Bird Certificate Package for Star Wars! Kenner, blindsided by the success of Star Wars, was unable to produce enough action figures for the lucrative Christmas market! So, in an inspired move, Kenner offered shoppers in 1977 empty boxes which contained a certificate promising a set of action figures, including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and R2-D2, in the New Year! Thirty years later and Nintendo of America is doing the same thing!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

I Do Blu

Since Sony's PS3 opened my eyes to the joie de vivre known as Blu-ray, I've been smitten!

Whether it's watching Spider-Man scale the heights of a New York skyline or Spielberg's majestic encounter with visitors from a distant star, Blu-ray excels.

Now a proponent of Blu-ray, here are my aStores, which feature my recommendations:

I Do Blu Shop UK
I Do Blu Shop USA
I Do Blu Shop Canada

Sensing the need to step up promotional efforts behind the Blu-ray Disc format heading into the critical holiday selling season, a group of hardware manufacturers and studios have pooled their resources on a "multimillion-dollar" television, print and online advertising campaign, billed as the largest for the format so far.

The effort, called "I Do Blu," quietly kicked off its prime-time TV portion with a spot on "Dancing With The Stars," and will continue through the Super Bowl.

Companies backing the project include hardware manufacturers Sony, Panasonic and Philips, and Blu-ray-backing studios include Walt Disney Studio Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Lions Gate and Warner Home Video. While they declined to reveal the exact size of the budget, they say it is the largest to date for the Blu-ray Disc format.

"Before we were really targeting the early adopter [with Blu-ray] but now the time is right to really go broad," said Rich Marty, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment new business development VP. "The [PlayStation3] is coming out at $399 now, and while some of purchasers will be into games, we believe a lot more of them will also really be into movies."

"There are 35 million HDTV sets out there in U.S. homes now, and they need to be informed that if they want to maximize their high-definition movie playback, they really need a Blu-ray player," said Lexine Wong, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment marketing VP.

The ads don't focus on any particular brand to remain fair to the three supporting equipment manufactures.

"It was agreed that we can get a bigger and better message out there if we all do this together," Marty told TWICE. He added that some companies were invited to participate but opted out at this time.

Movies featured in the 30-second TV spot include some of the biggest releases of the fall, including "Spiderman 3," "Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer," "Live Free or Die Hard," "Ratatouille," "Wedding Crashers," the "Harry Potter" series, "300" and others.

HD-what?

Friday, 7 December 2007

A Christmas Gift For Your PS3 From Sony

The long-awaited Profile 1.1 firmware upgrade for the PlayStation 3 should be available later this month. It was confirmed by Don Eklund, EVP of advanced technologies for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, at the High-Def 2.0 conference Dec. 4 in Los Angeles.

With several studios lining up 1.1-enabled Blu-ray Discs during the first quarter, the upgrade will allow those discs with picture-in-picture features to be used on the PS3.

Also known as “Final Standard Profile,” 1.1 adds a secondary audio decoder and a secondary video decoder, and requires support for 256MB of memory, either built-in or from a memory card or USB flash drive. All Blu-ray players introduced to market after Nov. 1 are required to support the profile.

I'm hoping that this update will include the feted DTS-HD Master Audio update too!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Gears of War Boot Camp

This time last year I was Wii-living my childhood, and Gears of War was garnering critical acclaim! I couldn't justify purchasing an Xbox 360 - especially after my first generation Xbox had failed. Well, Gears of War has finally arrived for Windows, which means Boot Camp comes to my aid at long last!

Gears of War for Windows features the amazing tactical action and multiplayer excitement found in the Xbox 360 version, but also adds a variety of all-new content, including three new multiplayer maps, a new multiplayer mode, game editor, five new game chapters and DirectX10 support.

Gears of War thrusts gamers into a deep and harrowing story of humankind's epic battle for survival against the Locust Horde, a nightmarish race of creatures that surface from the bowels of the planet.With Gears of War, Epic returns gamers to the massively scoped worlds, memorable characters, co-operative gameplay, and hyper-realistic combat that gamers have come to expect from the franchise, plus a few new surprises.

I also purchased Common Wireless Controller (Xbox 360/PC). However, the pack-in also includes Crossfire - Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows. Don't make the same mistake that I did and purchase one separately! Amazon, erroneously, promotes it as a perfect partner! Sending this back for a full refund.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Pre-order Wii Zapper at Amazon.co.uk

The Wii Remote and Nunchuk both take on a new feeling when placed within the Wii Zapper.

In Links Crossbow Training players use the Wii Remote in the Wii Zapper to aim at targets on the screen, with the Nunchuk controlling movement. On the Wii Remote, players simply press down the trigger (the B Button) to fire, or continue the pressure for a more powerful shot. They can also re-position themselves, turning in different directions by aiming the pointer off-screen. On the Nunchuk the Z-Button acts as a zoom function for the camera so that the shot is completely on target.

Links Crossbow Training sees each player take on the role of Link in a series of exciting and fast-paced challenges set in the world of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Players can get accustomed to the Wii Zapper with Links Crossbow Training and practice Target Shooting as well as the Defender and Ranger modes, ensuring an action-packed experience in numerous stages spread over nine levels. The object of each stage is to achieve the highest score before the time limit expires. Utilising the innovative Wii Zapper allows players to take aim and fully immerse themselves into the game in a completely new way!

Link's Crossbow Training (inc. Wii Zapper) is available for pre-order now.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Déjà Wii

E-tailer Amazon has sold 1,400 Nintendo Wii consoles in just 10 minutes after it received a delivery of the hard-to-find system yesterday, Cyber Monday!

Following last week's news that HMV sold its stock in 34 minutes, the build-up to Christmas has seen orders increase even more, with Amazon the latest firm to see demand far outstrip supply.

Such is the demand for the console that a report in trade paper MCV suggests Wii consoles have been changing hands for as much as £300 on eBay, with some high street retailers forcing customers to buy any machines they have left as part of an expensive games bundle.

Third-party resellers on Amazon are charging anywhere from £299.99 to £500 for a Wii. And Sony's PS3 60GB model commands £499.99 to £1500 now that the machine is sold out at retail!

Monday, 26 November 2007

War Games

I have it on excellent authority that Games for Windows titles should run perfectly under the aegis of Boot Camp!

As discussed previously. Now that Boot Camp has graduated from beta, there's really no need to wait for third-party developers, such as Aspyr or MacSoft, to port AAA titles to our OS platform of choice.

Instant gaming gratification guaranteed!

Canny Cyber Monday shoppers maybe lucky enough to buy an elusive Wii today!

Friday, 23 November 2007

Published by USA Today

I'm most flattered to learn that my post, Vanquishing Vista, has been republished by USATODAY.com (direct link).

This wouldn't have been made possible without being a BlogBurst member, and I implore readers, who also blog, to at least consider, if they haven't already done so, the opportunities open to them via social networking, at local, national and international level.

Reading Maury McCown's announcement that RailHEAD Design is no more, reminded me that I've neglected my portfolio site (founded June 15th 2001) since February!

The site was originally conceived to promote my skills and support job applications (don't assume that every prospective employer will bother to look at your site, no matter how easy it is to click a hyper link). However, it soon developed its own identity and became a springboard for affiliate marketing, graphic design, editorial, social networking and so on...

Whilst my portfolio site could never hope to garner the, deserved, success of RailHEAD Design, I've been proud to maintain it, exchange links with best-of-class Mac-related sites such as The Iconfactory, and humbled to read every e-mail inquiry. Like Maury, I've now taken the decision to no longer update the site. It won't be deleted.

The saga of Generation Star Wars has only just begun...

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

A quick, and last minute, post to wish all my US readers a very, very, Happy Thanksgiving, free from the trammels of materialism. Hope you're well-rested for Black Friday!

As with last year, the Nintendo Wii is in short supply on both sides of the Atlantic! Prices are skyrocketing and Link's Crossbow Training (inc. Wii Zapper) is being released in time for the holidays!

The Wii Zapper has Star Wars prop written all over it, and will be many gamers weapon of choice for blasting hapless Imperial Stormtroopers come Christmas!

Happy Birthday Scarlett Johansson!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Christmas on Exeter Street

If it wasn't enough that Exeter, my birthplace, garnered pride of place on Monopoly Here and Now UK Edition! Apple has finally announced that the Apple Store, Princesshay, opens on Saturday November 24th!

Here's the official announcement:

Come to the new Apple Store, Princesshay, and bring your curiosity. It's the place to test-drive any Mac or iPod, experience iPhone, and catch free workshops for all the latest Mac tips and tricks. When you get there, find our Concierge in the blue shirt. They're your guide to everything, from checking in for an appointment to instant checkout. This Saturday, you can enter our Grand Opening Sweepstakes* to win a Mac and loads of accessories to go with it. And if you're one of the first 1,000 visitors, you'll get a free Apple T-shirt.

Discover what makes the Apple Retail Store everyone's favourite neighbour.

Store Address:
24 Princesshay,
Exeter,
Devon
EX1 1GE

Telephone number: 01392 31 66 00

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Get Tangled Up

A rare pleasure is receiving a review copy of a new studio album! And it doesn't get much better, in the pop genre, then a new Girls Aloud album!

Chemistry (2005), fronted by Biology (arguably one of the best pop songs ever written), was a tough conceptual act to follow. Tangled Up is pop at its most wittily inventive, feisty and fearless!

Yes, Sexy No No No never develops on its initial intoxicating premise and Call The Shots is conservative despite a glorious chorus more suited to a composition rich in daring-do. Can't Speak French and Black Jacks brings brilliance in spades and from there Tangled Up delivers a la Britney's Blackout! Edgy musical standards that the middle and upper classes can enjoy deconstructing without being overly defensive! This is no guilty pleasure.

Love music, love Girls Aloud! I'm not going to say another word!

**** out of *****

Friday, 9 November 2007

iPhone Home in Princesshay

It would be most negligent of me not to mention today's European launch of the iPhone! Will I be taking one of these home tonight? No! Its superior, and newer, sibling, the iPod touch, is a far more alluring consumer product and isn't tied to a misguided and expensive O2 contract. And the diminutive charms of the new iPod nano cannot be resisted! A black iPod nano sits on my computer desk craving attention!

The enigmatic Apple Store Exeter, now securely encased in Apple's trademark black fascia, purportedly opens on Saturday November 24th in Exeter's all-new Princesshay shopping centre! Don't quote me. Perhaps I'll see you in the queue!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

PSEye

The Eye of Judgement could be this holiday season's ultimate electronic board game, narrowly missing the accolade this Halloween!

The Eye of Judgment sees the dawn of a new way to interact with the PLAYSTATION 3 system as an innovative game for the world of card games. Using the immense power of PLAYSTATION 3, and the ground-breaking technology of the next generation camera, players can now enjoy a totally new genre in gaming.

The Eye of Judgment presents a new style of gameplay where the player brings characters/monsters of fantasy trading cards to life for battle in 3D. Through use of a 3' x 3' board and trading cards - each encrypted with cybercode, players conquer the field by selecting a card and placing the cybercode in front of the next generation camera for their respective character to come to life and battle.

Each character has various skillsets, which will determine the outcome of the battle. Players take turns to place cards as they jostle for control of the board; the winner is the first player to capture five of the nine squares. The Eye of Judgment presents the player with more than 30 cards, as well as unique online and offline gameplay.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Reluctant Spice World

When I began my tenure at Reuters in 1996, the Spice Girls appeared on the pop scene and, mentored by their manager Simon Fuller, sold the ideological premise of "Girl Power!" wholesale to the masses.

This equated to a license to print money and, whatever you may think of the Spice Girls musical oeuvre, there's no denying Fuller's conquest of the retail aisles! From CDs to posters and toys to sweets, the Spice Girls foreshadowed the arrival of Bratz and the brand dilution of Barbie!

Incidentally, Victoria Beckham (then Adams) AKA Posh Spice, allegedly auditioned for a Bournemouth University BAMP production prior to the Spice Girls! Please don't ask me for details as I don't have any further information!

In anticipation of their upcoming tour...

I’M RELUCTANT SPICE, MEL C TELLS GRAHAM NORTON THE GRAHAM NORTON SHOW

10.00 pm, Thursday 25 October 2007 (repeated Sunday), BBC TWO

MELANIE ‘Sporty Spice’ CHISHOLM confirms she was slow to sign up for the Spice Girls’ forthcoming world tour when she joins GRAHAM NORTON this week.

‘I was Reluctant Spice’ she says, ‘I was the last to make my decision because it was a hard decision to make .. I was scared we couldn’t do it again. It was a weird time of my life, I had a lot of personal s**t to get over after the Spice Girls.’ But she denies press rumours that she was bullied; ‘I never said that. How can they quote you? I wasn’t bullied at all. .. I just love the British tabloids, they’re so imaginative! In America they’re more of a joke.’

About the forthcoming single she says they all share the singing honours; ‘We all sing the chorus, we all have an equal part in the song .. it’s a very ‘Spicey’ ballad, it’s lovely to hear all our voices again, I love doing that kind of stuff.’

Mel also comes out in support of troubled Britney Spears. ‘Poor Britney, I feel bad for her. She used to be looked after. Obviously she’s not happy, she really needs someone to step in.’

And she also reveals she’s been round to the Princes’ for tea; ‘I met them a while ago. We [the Spice Girls] were invited to Highgrove for high tea. Some of us didn’t like cucumber sandwiches and we made this known to our hosts, and we were made peanut-butter on toast by Prince William (but) the kitchen was rubbish, like MFI!’ she said.

Graham is also joined by Hollywood royalty JOSH HARTNETT whose latest blockbuster 30 Days of Night is released in the UK next week; and RUFUS WAINWRIGHT performs his new single Tiergarten live in the studio.

Watch the interview clip (iTunes required).

The Graham Norton Show is a So Television production for BBC TWO.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Vanquishing Vista

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard is released to retail on Friday October 26th and Amazon.co.uk is offering 6% off the pre-order price for both client versions:

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (Single-user license)
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Family Pack (5-user license)

*Introduces over 300 new and enhanced features to OS X, including a new desktop and updated finder enabling easy browsing and sharing between multiple Macs
*Take advantage of the latest developments in processor hardware with full native 64-bit support, multi-core optimization, and new Core animation
*Preview files without opening an application using Quick Look
*Easily and automatically back up and restore lost files or a complete Mac with Time Machine
*Create groups of applications and instantly switch between them with Spaces

Will Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard be worth the wait? Of course it will! And pre-orders are more than double that of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger! Various online forums are positing that the increase is related to the advent of Boot Camp and native Microsoft Windows OS support! Certainly PC-based games, such as the stunning Half-Life 2: The Orange Box, can now be played with a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium installed! And, in fairness, I've experienced no problems with running Windows Vista on my Intel-based Mac!

I'll post my Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard review in short order!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Unreal Tournament PS3

My PS3 has been up and running since the weekend, and I have to say that the build quality is on a par with Apple and Panasonic (two of my favourite brands)! I adore the retro future look and feel.

The picture quality, via composite video connection, is surprisingly vivid and crisp! Heaven knows how good Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection will look when my Panasonic TX-32LXD700 arrives in November and I can switch to HDMI 1.3! Panasonic's black beauty won plaudits in both What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision and Which? magazines. Believe the hype!

Sonically, the PS3 is no slouch and effortlessly extracted every last essence of musicality from Timbaland's celebrated contributions to Justin Timberlake's Future Sex/Love Sounds CD. Therefore I'm compelled to replace my current ailing Sony amp with its newer HDMI-equipped sibling - STR-DA1200ES! It's cheaper and prettier than Onkyo's impressive TX-SR605.

Sony’s plans to clear the retail channel of 60GB PS3s appear to be well on course following the unit’s recent price cut in the UK!

As reported in the mainstream press earlier this week, the aggressive price cut to the 60GB PS3 and the introduction of an entry-level 40GB unit sans SACD playback and multimedia card reader saw weekly PlayStation 3 sales jump 178 percent. According to sales monitor ChartTrack, sales of the 60GB model accounted for 89 percent of PS3 sales last week.

“PS3 went up by 178 percent over the previous week, which puts it third in terms of overall hardware sold behind DS Lite and Wii,” ChartTrack director Dorian Bloch told MCV. “It was PS3’s biggest week since weeks one and two in March.”

“As expected, everyone’s buying the 60GB PS3 as it is such a bargain – the split is about 89 percent to 11 percent in the 60GB console’s favour.”

As I said in my previous post; there really is no contest between the 60GB and 40GB models! The 60GB is unassailable in terms of technological prowess and value for money! I encourage any reader, who is considering a pre-Christmas PS3 purchase, and that includes any prospective Blu-ray consumers amongst you too, to buy the 60GB model before it's sold out! Incidentally, Sony has introduced an 80GB model, in the USA, based on the reduced functionality of the 40GB machine. If you need a larger HDD, it's very easy to swap!

I can't wait to finally see Pan's Labyrinth (Blu-ray) as it promises to be the most audacious movie presentation released on a silver platter to date!

Friday, 12 October 2007

The Blu-ray Dream Machine

After 5 years my ageing, but trustworthy, Toshiba SD-520 multi-region DVD player finally stopped working on Tuesday night! Sony's PS3 (60GB Premium Version) price cut, announced on Wednesday, couldn't have been better timed! A backlog of Doctor Who DVDs and a desire to indulge in Blu-ray eye candy notwithstanding!

I most certainly couldn't justify a PS3 purchase at launch! £424.99 was far too high an entry fee! However, the new price, £349.99 (including two selected video game titles) while stocks last, is a veritable bargain! Why? The key selling point is Sony's ongoing firmware update strategy (combined with technological trimmings)! And this month is no exception to that rule!

Not satisfied with adding standard definition DVD upscaling for HDTV. This month's firmware update will usher in Blu-ray Profile 1.1, which includes upgraded interactivity featuring true video picture-in-picture playback, and improved DVD player performance (the 40GB model ships with the latter). Future updates purportedly will be headlined by the highly-anticipated DTS-HD Master Audio upgrade!

Such firmware-based scalability arguably puts the PS3 at the forefront of Blu-ray playback and no other standalone Blu-ray machine can compete at this price point! I can't comment on the intrinsic value or merits of Microsoft's external HD DVD drive for Xbox 360.

Throw in PlayStation 2 backwards compatibility, SACD playback and MemoryStick / SD / CompactFlash connectivity (options only available on the 60GB model) and gadget-geeks (myself included) have an all-in-one multimedia hub worthy of the 5 stars awarded by T3 magazine!

My advice is to invest in the 60GB model, HDMI 1.3 compliant cable and Sony Blu-ray Remote, because the 40GB is nowhere near as good value by comparison! And, while you're at the checkout, be sure to grab a copy of the amazing Spider-Man Trilogy (Blu-ray)!

Friday, 5 October 2007

New PS3 for the masses?

New PLAYSTATION®3 Model to Take Holiday Season by Storm

Aggressively priced hardware and a terrific software line-up make for an unbeatable combination New 40GB PS3 at €399


London, 5 October 2007 – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced details of its exciting new PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) model that will launch throughout the SCEE territories on 10th October 2007 at the highly attractive price of €399.

Providing an incredibly appealing entry point to the world of High Definition gaming and entertainment for the holiday season, the new PS3 brings the next generation of interactive home entertainment to homes all across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Australasia.

Along with an ever expanding line-up of PS3 titles (a total of 65 titles tracking across all genres by Christmas), the new PS3 is equipped with a 40GB HDD and includes all the features central to the High Definition entertainment experience; true next generation gameplay, stunning High Definition Blu-ray Disc™ movies, SIXAXIS™ wireless controller, Wi-Fi and HDMI connectivity, all powered by the Cell Broadband Engine™, the digital heart of PS3.

As with the 60GB PS3, the new PS3 features upgradeable firmware allowing new features and functionality to be added to the system as time progresses. A recent firmware update, for example, enabled PS3 to upscale DVD’s played on the system to full 1080P High Definition.

The introduction of the new PS3 has been determined following user feedback from thousands of existing PS3 owners as well as research into future potential PS3 owners. The new model features two USB 2.0 ports rather than four and no longer includes the multi memory card port.

The new model is no longer backwards compatible with PlayStation®2 titles, reflecting both the reduced emphasis placed on this feature amongst later purchasers of PS3, as well as the availability of a more extensive line-up of PS3 specific titles (a total of 65 titles across all genres by Christmas).

The existing Starter Pack*, comprising a 60GB PS3 with extensive backwards compatibility, an additional SIXAXIS wireless controller and two first party titles will be reduced in price to €499. Remaining on sale while stocks last, the 60GB model represents outstanding value for the keen gamer wishing to upgrade to the High Definition capabilities of PS3.

“The introduction of the new PS3 has been the result of extensive research into the entertainment needs and preferences of the next generation of PS3 owners,” said David Reeves, President of SCEE. “It has allowed us to deliver an extremely advanced, yet incredibly affordable High Definition gaming and entertainment system, configured to the needs of the next generation of European PS3 owners. PS3 has always been the device of choice for the discerning gamer and entertainment seeker, and the new PS3 is more than ever the perfect High Definition entertainment system.

*In the UK and Ireland, the Starter Pack will be replaced by a separate in-store promotion on the 60GB PS3.

PLAYSTATION®3 40GB Specification
Product name PLAYSTATION®3
CPU Cell Broadband Engine™ Processor
GPU RSX™
Sound Dolby 5.1ch, DTS 5.1ch , LPCM 7.1ch, AAC,
others *1 *2
Memory 256MB XDR Main RAM, 256MB GDDR3 VRAM
HDD 2.5” Serial ATA 40GB
I/O USB 2.0 x2
Communication Ethernet x1 (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX,
1000BASE-T)
IEEE 802.11 b/g Included
Bluetooth 2.0 (EDR) Included
Wireless controller (Bluetooth) Included
AV Output
Screen size 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
HDMI OUT x1 *3
AV MULTI OUT x1
DIGITAL OUT (OPTICAL) x1
BD/DVD/CD Drive
(Read Only) Maximum Read Speed BD 2x (BD-ROM)
DVD 8x (DVD-ROM)
CD 24x (CD-ROM)
Dimensions Approximately 325mm (W) x 98mm (H) x 274mm (D)
Weight Approximately 5 kg

*1 A device compatible with Linear PCM 7.1 Ch. is required to output 7.1 Ch. audio, supported by Dolby TrueHD or a similar format, from the HDMI OUT connector.
*2 This system does not support output from the DTS-HD 7.1 Ch. DTS-HD 7.1 Ch. audio is output from a 5.1 or lower channel.
*3 "Deep Color" and "x.v.Color (xvYCC)" defined by HDMI ver1.3a are supported.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

The Movie Hero

Ultimate Bumblebee has eclipsed my modest expectations! Here he is, case fresh, direct from Hasbro UK's warehouse!

Shut Up & Drive

Ultimate Bumblebee elicits the kind of gadget-geek excitement once reserved for Tomy's Omnibot! It's no wonder he's made it into this year's Toys R' Us Fabulous Fifteen and among the toys chosen as "12 Best toys of 2007" by Parija B. Kavilanz, senior writer at CNNMoney.com. Or was it the profit margin?

Fiscal matters aside. Ultimate Bumblebee is one cool electronic toy for boys and girls of any age! Omnibot who?

Monday, 1 October 2007

Stocking Fillers

Christmas comes even earlier this year! Cards, decorations and seasonal promotions are already hitting high street shelves and QVC!

Without further ado, here's my official top 20 holiday gift ideas, traversing books, toys, music, video games and electronic gadgets for all ages:

Please note that these are affiliate links.

1). Nintendo Wii
2). Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
3). iPod nano 8GB
4). iPod touch 16GB
5). iPod classic 160GB
6). Xbox 360 Elite
7). Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
8). PSP Slim and Lite
9). PS3 (60GB Premium Version)
10). Panasonic TX-32LXD700 - 32" Widescreen Viera HD LCD TV
11). Sony KDL32D3000 - 32" Widescreen Bravia HD LCD TV
12). The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo DS)
13). Transformers Movie - Leader Optimus Prime
14). Be Bratz
15). Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
16). Change Sugababes
17). iLife '08
18). iMac 24" Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz/1GB/320GB/ SuperDrive
19). Doctor Who: The Key to Time (Limited Edition 7-Disc Box set)
20). The Making of "Star Wars"

Newer readers may wish to read:

Review of the Year 2004
Review of the Year 2005
Review of the Year 2006

Stay tuned for Review of the Year 2007 coming this December. Why not subscribe?

Friday, 28 September 2007

Send SMS for free iTunes UK Store Music

Time's running out and I've only just learnt about this offer!

Apple is offering UK residents a free iTunes song! That'll include me then and, sure enough, I've downloaded the Sugababes sensational new single About You Know! Pure retro-infused electro-pop class.

UK readers send an SMS with the words "ROCK," "POP," "LIVE," or "ITUNES" to 85100 before midnight tonight!

The redemption code expires on September 30th! Send that SMS now!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Wii Transfer

Trawling the web, avoiding Halo 3 hype, I stumbled across this gem of a Mac OS X application for Nintendo Wii owners!

The following information is taken from the Riverfold Software website! Please note that I am in no way affiliated with Riverfold Software.

The Mac companion for your Wii

Wii Transfer can share your movies, music, and pictures directly to your Nintendo Wii using the Internet Channel. Browse iTunes playlists and iPhoto albums on your television. Convert your movies to formats the Wii understands, either streaming directly from your Mac or for playback in the Wii's Photo Channel. Wii Transfer can even manage saved game backups copied to an SD card.


Wii Transfer admission costs a paltry $19 (£9 GBP) and I'd recommend purchasing a SanDisk Card Reader/Writer.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Combat Concluded

A question for you! Will you be buying an Xbox 360 (if you don't already own one) to play Halo 3? Is it worth running the risk of the Red Ring of Death?

Friday, 21 September 2007

Skins

Skins – Series 1

3-disc set released by 4DVD on Monday 24th September 2007

“It’s Official: We’re addicted to Skins.” Heat

“This is TV at its best: feisty, polarising & compelling.” The Times

“Funny, pacey and authentic.” Daily Mirror

From the makers of the multi award-winning show Shameless comes Skins, the critically-acclaimed hit comedy drama series about the lives and loves of a diverse group of Bristol teenagers who get high, get drunk, get laid and get up for their A-levels. These kids really grab life by the balls and then give it a twirl.

A ratings smash that has been recomissioned for a second season, Series 1 of Skins is released for the first time ever on DVD on Monday 24th September courtesy of 4DVD. The brainchild of a young team of writers with an average age of just 22, including Josie Long (newcomer 2006, Edinburgh Comedy Festival), Jack Thorne (Shameless), Simon Amstell (Never Mind the Buzzcocks), The Dawson Brothers (Balls of Steel, Dirty Tricks), and 20-something newcomers, Ben Schiffer and Jamie Brittain, with creator and executive producer Bryan Elsley (The Young Person’s Guide To Becoming a Rock Star, 40, The Crow Road).

The Skins DVD is packed with extras, including an ancillary story line for each episode, video diaries from the main characters, the director’s cut trailer, and a music video for Gossip’s ‘Standing in the Way of Control.’

At the centre of the Bristol teenage scene is Tony (About a Boy’s Nicholas Hoult), the most popular boy in school with a manipulative streak a mile wide. Everything he touches turns to gold, but this philosophy-reading hedonist uses his charm more often for evil than good. Caught in Tony’s web is his best friend Sid (Mike Bailey), an unconfident virgin who is often verbally abused by Tony, but sticks around because he is in love with Tony’s gorgeous girlfriend Michelle (April Pearson).

Joining the love triangle is kooky Cassie (Hannah Murray), who struggles with severe eating problems; Chris (Joe Dempsie), the resident party animal with a thing for his psychology teacher; Michelle’s best friend Jal (Larissa Wilson), a no-nonsense person with serious ambitions about her clarinet playing; Anwar (Dev Patel), a Muslim boy who finds that the Koran and his pleasure-seeking lifestyle do not mix well; Maxxie (Mitch Hewer), the only gay boy in the group; and Tony’s mysterious younger sister Effy (Kaya Scodelario), the only person Tony truly cares about.

Except for the premier and final episodes, which are ensemble cast pieces, each of the nine 60-minute episodes are named after a different central character, which the episode then focuses on. However, overarching plot lines run throughout the entire series, such as Tony’s tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend Michelle, and Sid’s quest to lose his virginity to escape Tony’s taunting.

Made by Company Pictures for E4, Skins is created by Bryan Elsley (The Young Person’s Guide to Becoming a Rock Star) and Jamie Brittain, executive produced by Charles Pattinson, George Faber (Shameless), and Bryan Elsley, and produced by Chris Clough (Trial and Retribution).

After a hugely successful premier run on E4, Skins series 1 comes to Channel 4 on 21st August, and Series 2 began filming this summer on location in Bristol.

Lookout for my Skins Series 1 DVD review.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

PlayStation Plan

KAZUO HIRAI, PRESIDENT AND GROUP CEO OF SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT, OUTLINES PLANS FOR PLAYSTATION BUSINESS AT TOKYO GAME SHOW 2007 KEYNOTE SPEECH

Tokyo, 20 September, 2007 – At Tokyo Game Show 2007, Kazuo Hirai, President and Group CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI), today made a keynote speech that demonstrated the strength and new plans of the PlayStation® business.

- Further Expansion of the PlayStation®2 business

In the 8th year from launch, PlayStation 2 still sees steady demands particularly in North America and Europe. Reaching the remarkable milestone of the 120 millionth shipment in the 7th year from launch, PlayStation 2 will have longer-tail business compared to its predecessor, the original PlayStation. Targeting at further expanding the business into the emerging markets, SCEI will continue to vigorously promote PlayStation 2, by introducing more and more exciting new games.

- PSP® (PlayStation®Portable), a Key Driving Force for the Growth Strategy for Overall PlayStation® Business

Strong support from users worldwide as well as abundant exciting software line-up including million seller titles from publishers around the world, have resulted in PSP hardware shipment exceeding 26 million units worldwide by June, 2007. SCEI will further enhance its portability and convenience for users along with continuous cost reduction measures to boost the expansion of the PSP platform.

➢ Introduce color variations and popular software bundled products to meet the needs of variety of users around the world.

➢ Offer users new entertainment experiences that are only possible on PSP, by enriching network content and services in addition to introducing unique peripherals such as camera, GPS, and “1Seg” TV tuner.

➢ Deploy market oriented strategies in each region.

With PSP, equipped with an overwhelmingly powerful CPU and a high resolution large LCD screen for a handheld device, SCEI will further extend the boundaries of game experiences by fully utilizing “Remote Play”. The combination of PS3 and PSP Remote Play will offer PSP users more exciting and new ways to enjoy rich interactive entertainment content especially of sports, RPG, and shooting.

- Strengthening Software Development Environment for PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3®) along with the Introduction of More Software Titles and Unique Peripherals

SCEI will be even more supportive of third party developers by way of following measures.

➢ Share assets and know-how built up within Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios (SCE WWS).

➢ Hold advisory board in periodical basis to get feedback from publishers.

➢ Implement various strategies and sharing of information to enhance efficiency in games development.

➢ Share SN Systems tool chain.

In a strategic move to secure excellence in games development for current and future PlayStation platforms, SCEI have acquired leading game developer Evolution Studios Ltd. and its subsidiary Bigbig studios Ltd., to further expand its games development capability as part of SCE WWS.

Continuous cost reduction efforts including shrinking the chip size and reducing the number of components. Cost reduction of hardware is one of the most important challenges for our business and SCEI will further accelerate this effort.

SCEI will continue R&D efforts to accommodate to users’ demand. As part of such efforts, SCEI today announced DUALSHOCK®3 Wireless Controller, a new controller for PS3 incorporating a rumble feature, to become available in Japan in November as a separately sold accessory. It inherits the basic design and functionality of the popular PlayStation controller, while keeping the motion sensitive six-axis sensing system. Introduction to North American and European markets is expected in spring 2008.

- Creation of New Business Opportunities Suitable for the Network Era

More than 2.7 million users worldwide have gone on-line with PS3. The number of users that are on-line is steadily increasing, enjoying the latest PS3 network games as well as exchanging messages and video chatting on-line.

➢ Gran Turismo™5 Prologue will be available both on Blu-ray Disc and as a downloadable content from PLAYSTATION®Network on December 13th in the Japanese market. Gran Turismo™5 Prologue presents a new life style beyond traditional game experiences such as on-line car dealers and “GT.TV”, an in-game service for the distribution of car programs.

➢PLAYSTATION®Home

PLAYSTATION Home, a 3D on-line user community service, is currently under development to be launched in spring 2008.

➢ PLAYSTATION®Store in Japan offers more than 500 entertainment content including more than 30 of downloadable new games and demos, more than 300 of add-on game content, more than 100 “Game Archives” titles for PSP/PS3 and about 90 movie trailers.

➢ SCEI today opened PLAYSTATION®Store on PC in Japan which enables PSP users to download a wide variety of digital entertainment content available on PLAYSTATION Network via their PC.

- Future Possibility for PS3

With the participation of PS3 incorporating super computer-like powerful Cell Broadband Engine™ (Cell/B.E.)– and what will be even more powerful when connected to the network – , Stanford University’s Folding@home™ program achieved a total computing power of 1 petaflop at a single moment, of which 80% calculation was contributed by PS3 users.

With PS3, equipped with this powerful Cell/B.E. as well as other state-of-the-art technology such as full HD capability and Blu-ray, SCEI will continue to expand a new world of interactive entertainment.

Dualshock®3

DUALSHOCK®3 WIRELESS CONTROLLER WITH RUMBLE FEATURE TO BE INTRODUCED FOR PLAYSTATION®3

Tokyo, September 20, 2007 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) today announced that it would release DUALSHOCK®3 Wireless Controller, a new controller for PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3®) incorporating a rumble feature, in Japan in November as a separately sold accessory. It inherits the basic design and functionality of the popular PlayStation® controller, while keeping the high-precision, high response motion sensitive six-axis sensing system. Introduction to North American and European markets is expected in spring 2008.

The added rumble feature, combined with the highly realistic motion sensitive six-axis sensing system, takes gamers deeper into the world of interactivity, delivering a more intuitive, realistic and immersive game play experience. The new controller will also benefit PS3 content creators, by giving them the ability to further expand their creative imagination. PS3 titles that are already in the market may become compatible with the rumble feature through software update.

With DUALSHOCK 3 and the attractive lineup of PS3 titles incorporating the rumble feature, SCEI will introduce more new ways of enjoyment that can only be found on PS3, and will further redefine the world of entertainment.

LIST OF PLAYSTATION®3 TITLES COMPATIBLE WITH DUALSHOCK®3 IN JAPAN

As of September 20th, 2007

(in alphabetical order of company name)

Title Name Developer/Publisher

Vampire Rain -Altered Species AQ INTERACTIVE Inc.

BIOHAZARD® 5 CAPCOM CO.,LTD.

Devil May Cry® 4 CAPCOM CO.,LTD.

Dark Sector D3 PUBLISHER Inc.

Burnout Paradise ELECTRONIC ARTS K.K.

FIFA franchise (title name TBD) ELECTRONIC ARTS K.K.

BUMPY TROT2 IREM SOFTWARE ENGINEERING INC.

Dynasty Warriors 6 KOEI Co., Ltd.

Fatal Inertia KOEI Co., Ltd.

GI JOCKEY 4 2007 KOEI Co., Ltd.

METAL GEAR ONLINE Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.

METAL GEAR SOLID 4 GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.

IMABIKISOU SEGA CORPORATION

Blast Factor (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

echochrome Sony Computer Entertainment

Folklore (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

FORMULA ONE CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

Go! Sports Ski (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

Heavenly Sword (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

MotorStorm (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction Sony Computer Entertainment

Resistance: Fall of Men (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

Super Stardust HD (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

TOY HOME Sony Computer Entertainment

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune Sony Computer Entertainment

Warhawk (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

LIST OF PLAYSTATION®3 TITLES COMPATIBLE WITH DUALSHOCK®3 IN NORTH AMERICA AND EUROPE *2

As of September 20th, 2007

(in alphabetical order of company name)

Title Name Developer/Publisher

The Darkness 2K Games

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Activision

Soldier of Fortune Activision

BIOHAZARD® 5 CAPCOM

Devil May Cry® 4 CAPCOM

N-Cube Creat Studios

Warbit Creat Studios

Dark Sector D3 PUBLISHER

Turok Disney Interactive

Highlander Eidos

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men Eidos

Burnout Paradise ELECTRONIC ARTS

FIFA franchise (title name TBD) ELECTRONIC ARTS

Legendary: The Box Gamecock

To End All Wars Ghostlight

RAGE id Software

WarDevil – Unleash the Beast Within Ignition Entertainment

Dynasty Warriors 6 KOEI

Fatal Inertia KOEI

METAL GEAR SOLID 4 GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS Konami

Blacksite: Area 51 Midway

TNA Wrestling Midway

Unreal Tournament 3 Midway

Wheelman Midway

Cops (codename, title name TBD) Pyro

Planet One (codename, title name TBD) Pyro

Heroes over Europe Red Mile Entertainment

Condemned 2 SEGA

Iron Man SEGA

The Club SEGA

The Crucible SEGA

The Incredible Hulk SEGA

Blast Factor (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

echochrome Sony Computer Entertainment

Elefunk Sony Computer Entertainment

Folklore (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

FORMULA ONE CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

Go! Sports Ski (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

Heavenly Sword (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

High Velocity Bowling Sony Computer Entertainment

MLB 08: The Show Sony Computer Entertainment

MotorStorm (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

NBA 08 (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

PAIN Sony Computer Entertainment

Rat Race Sony Computer Entertainment

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction Sony Computer Entertainment

Resistance: Fall of Man (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

Snakeball Sony Computer Entertainment

SOCOM: Confrontation Sony Computer Entertainment

Super Stardust HD (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

TOY HOME Sony Computer Entertainment

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune Sony Computer Entertainment

Warhawk (*1) Sony Computer Entertainment

WipEout HD Sony Computer Entertainment

GirpShift® Sony Online Entertainment

NBA 2K8 Take Two Sports

Destroy All Humans 3 THQ

Stuntman Ignition THQ

Assassin’s Creed UbiSoft

BEOWULF UbiSoft

HAZE UbiSoft

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (*1) UbiSoft

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas (*1) UbiSoft

Prototype Vivendi Games

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena Vivendi Games

*1  Users will be able to enjoy the rumble feature through software update.

*2 Actual titles to be released may vary among countries and regions.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Super Paper Cuts

Nintendo of Europe released a statement today acknowledging the existence of a game-freezing bug in the newly released PAL Super Paper Mario.

When you are playing Super Paper Mario in UK English, German or Spanish, a problem can occur in a very specific situation. Since the situation where the error occurs is so specific, it’s very possible that you may not experience any issue at all.

At the start of Chapter 2-2, you will come across a character called Mimi. She will tell you to go to the farthest room on the first floor to meet a character called Merlee. Enter that room and press the green switch. A trap will be triggered, and a spiked ceiling will descend upon Mario. Before the ceiling reaches him, flip into 3D and jump on it to find a key.

If you pick up the key, you won't run into any problems. Use it to open the locked door to Mimi's right. However, if you talk to Mimi without picking up the key, the game will freeze. You will then have to turn off your Wii console and start again from your last save point.

Please note that your game freezing up will not do any damage to your Wii or the game itself, but we do sincerely apologise for this error and the inconvenience caused to your gameplay experience.

While you can avoid the problem as described above, we want to give you the opportunity to replace your Super Paper Mario game disc free of charge with a new version that doesn’t contain the error. Details about the replacement procedure will be announced shortly on this website.

We hope this problem doesn’t stop you from enjoying Super Paper Mario and would once again like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Wii Unleash the Force

Star Wars™: The Force Unleashed™ Coming to Nintendo's Platform with Exclusive Duel Mode

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Sept. 18, 2007 - LucasArts today revealed that Star Wars™: The Force Unleashed™ will come to the Wii™ home videogame system from Nintendo next spring, offering owners the unique chance to live out their Jedi fantasies by wielding the Wii Remote™ as a lightsaber while using the Nunchuk™ controller to torment foes with their Force™ powers.

The Force Unleashed casts players as Darth Vader's "Secret Apprentice" and promises to unveil new revelations about the Star Wars galaxy. The game's expansive story is set during the largely unexplored era between Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. In it, players will assist the iconic villain in his quest to rid the universe of Jedi - and face decisions that could change the course of their destiny.

The Wii version, in development by Krome Studios, will also add an exclusive duel mode in which players can compete head-to-head with their friends to determine the ultimate Jedi Master.

"The Wii is a great platform for The Force Unleashed, because the console's motion-oriented controllers really bring the game to life," said Jim Ward, President of LucasArts. "We've worked hard to make the Wii version of the game unique in order to truly let you unleash the Force."

Monday, 17 September 2007

Generation Xbox

Microsoft wants video gamers to "finish the fight" when the last chapter of its "Halo" trilogy comes out next week, but a carefully crafted merchandising strategy will make sure Master Chief lives on for years to come.

"Halo" is crucial to the success of Microsoft's Xbox video game business, which has lost billions of dollars since it was started in 2001 as a way to counter Sony Corp's growing dominance.

Hailed by some as the "Star Wars" for Generation Xbox, the "Halo" franchise has spawned a mini-empire of licensed toys, clothing and tie-ins. The game features a space marine called Master Chief trying to save humanity from an alien army known as the Covenant.

Xbox 360 Halo 3 Limited Edition Console

The console features an exclusive "Spartan green and gold" finish and comes bundled with a matching Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, 20GB Hard Drive, Headset, Play & Charge Kit, and exclusive Halo 3 Gamer Pics and Theme (available via Xbox LIVE download).



Box contents:

*Halo 3 Special Edition Console
*Halo 3 Special Edition Wireless Controller
*Halo 3 Special Edition 20GB Hard Drive
*Halo 3 Special Edition Wired Headset
*Play & Charge Kit
*Halo 3 Special Edition Gamer Pics and Theme (Exclusive download via Xbox LIVE)
*Component HD AV Cable
*Ethernet Cable
*HDMI Port
*Xbox LIVE Silver Membership
*One-month Xbox LIVE Gold Membership

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Coaster Crazy!

Last Tuesday I went to Thorpe Park with two of my cousins and 'conquered' Colossus! The roller coaster is located in the Lost City area, in the south of the park. The ride is formed out of a vertical loop, a cobra roll, two corkscrews and five inline twists.

The upcoming Halloween and Bonfire Night seasonal spectaculars look a treat! You can read all about Fright Night and Thorpe Blast here.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Touch Me (All Night Long)

Pre-ordered an iPod touch 16GB model! Well, how could I resist its consummate gorgeousness? The form factor eclipses even Sony's PSP, which I predominantly used for Wi-Fi web surfing and not gaming!

I believe that the launch of iPod touch is profoundly more important than even the iPhone and the iPod touch will become the "must-have" holiday season gift! Why? Because it's the summation of the direction that Apple Newton, or simply Newton, alluded to prior to Steve Jobs' decision to cancel the company's personal digital assistant (PDA) product line in 1997!

A decade on and Newton OS has been replaced by Mac OS X in Apple's newest PDA family.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Sexy! Yes Yes Yes

The new iPods are delicious! iPod touch is especially captivating and Apple has delivered a compelling refresh to its ubiquitous all-conquering brand - nano, shuffle and all-new classic.

I'd certainly have liked to see a more capacious HDD available for the iPod touch, but good things come to those who wait! For the time being iPod classic is the more compelling portable solution; boasting up to 160GB of storage! I'll be using this for data backup on both Mac OS X and Windows Vista Home Premium!

Don't forget to download iTunes 7.4! Sexy! No No No, by Girls Aloud, sounds even edgier especially Cheryl Tweedy's intro.

Goodbye to Microsoft Zune and NBC/Universal!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Xbox 360 Messenger Kit

The Xbox 360 Messenger Kit, which includes a Chatpad and Xbox 360 headset, allows users to easily chat with friends or family on Xbox LIVE and Windows-based PCs. The automatically backlit Chatpad quickly connects to any Xbox 360 controller and can be easily controlled with simple thumb strokes so users can simultaneously chat and play games with ease.

Amazon.co.uk is offering this cool piece of gaming kit for £19.99. This is currently cheaper than Play.com and Game.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

DS Deal

Amazon.co.uk is running an unmissable late summer DS deal! Buy a Black, White or Pink console and a top game for only £109.99 GBP! This discount runs until December 31st, 2007. Don't forget to pre-order The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, considered by some gaming critics as the best entry in the franchise! And Heroes of Mana.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Grecians Goal!

In my never-ending quest to be at the vanguard of multimedia, and in anticipation of new Apple iPods (6G) on September 5th, I've uploaded my video clip of Exeter City FC's one and only goal during their Conference "play-off" final against Morecombe at the new Wembley Stadium.

Don't forget that iTunes UK now features hit television shows such as Lost and Desperate Housewives. I'd be most surprised if Apple doesn't announce movies to coincide with the launch of new iPods this week!

Friday, 31 August 2007

Wii Breaks UK Sales Record

Nintendo’s Wii system has become the fastest-ever selling console in UK history, racking up over 1 million sales in just 38 weeks.

According to figures released Thursday by sales data trackers Chart Track, Nintendo’s Wii passed the 1 million sales mark 11 weeks faster than the previous record holder, Sony’s PlayStation 2, which took 50 weeks to achieve the feat, and 22 weeks earlier than Microsoft's Xbox 360, which took 60 weeks to hit one million UK sales.

The Wii now reportedly claims a 68 percent share of the UK home console market, while Nintendo’s DS system also has an 86 percent share of the UK handheld console market.

"The non-stop demand for Wii even in the traditionally slow sales periods for video games in the UK is clearly behind this record breaking achievement,” said David Yarnton, general manager of Nintendo UK.

“The performance of both systems appears to indicate that unprecedented interactive entertainment experiences, provided by a combination of the revolutionary nature of DS and Wii with the increasing number of unique software titles for the system from Nintendo and third parties, are being enjoyed by both avid and new gamers of all ages.

“With more great games such as Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3 and Endless Ocean launching in 2007, Wii, together with Nintendo DS, will continue to be the main driving forces behind the expansion of the video game market this year."

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Transforming Scribes

Dorling Kindersley (DK) and myself are offering one lucky reader a chance to win a copy of the terrific Transformers: The Movie Guide book, which sports an eye-catching lenticular hologram morphing from Autobot insignia to Optimus Prime.



This hardback book is a backstage pass to the "Transformers" movie. Get under the metal and discover more about the Robots in Disguise in this spectacular guide to the earth-stopping film.

Packed with incredible images, this book enables you to check out transport and locations from the Transformers universe and come face-to-mask with all your favourite characters from Optimus Prime to Megatron. Plus, get a fascinating insight into all the bots and take a serious look at their unstoppable powers (but keep your distance!).

To enter for a chance of winning this prize, please leave a comment. Good luck. Special thanks to DK for supplying the competition prize.

Explore the Star Wars galaxy through DK books.

About DK books
Since 1974, Dorling Kindersley has published an extensive range of internationally acclaimed titles in 51 languages for adults and children. As the UK's market leader in illustrated non-fiction, we pride ourselves on creating books that combine comprehensive information and superb design.

Over the years, as the world's leading family illustrated publisher, we have inspired and informed readers who find DK books to be educational, distinctive and of consistently high quality. We value this reputation and will continue to create reference titles that are, without question, exceptional.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Add Chitika to Facebook

Chitika has launched iBought:

iBought is our newest Facebook application that lets you show off the cool gadgets & items you've bought. Watch out because your friends will rate your purchases by giving you a thumbs up or down. (Don't worry you will get a chance to rate them back!) The best part is you will get $1.00 every single time you get someone to add the Facebook application, whether you use Facebook or not!

Promote this application in your blog or website or add a referral banner. All they have to do is add the application and you get $1.oo:




Don't wait - you could lose your chance to earn!
This promotional offer will be given to the first 10,000 downloads only. That means Chitika is giving away $10,000 in total for referral revenue on Facebook! Example: 20 referrals = $20.00. Grab your code now for your chunk of cash before someone else does and it is gone!

Friday, 24 August 2007

Elite Launch

Xbox 360 Elite launches today! It may lack the razzle-dazzle of a true next generation console release (this is a marketing relaunch). But, is significant in so much as Microsoft can now begin aggressive price reductions, in earnest and much to Sony's chagrin, and introduce the feted Falcon - the internal codename for their updated Xbox 360 motherboard housing smaller, cooler, 65nm Xenos and Xenon chips - and improve product reliability!

The "red ring of death", as it's known to gamers, has fuelled consumer anxiety and resistance since the Xbox 360 debuted, overheating, in holiday 2005. Subsequently the console has attained the brand diluting reputation of an alleged 33% hardware failure rate. With the benefit of hindsight it appears that I was wise to cancel my pre-order!

The Elite includes a 120GB hard drive, a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port, a high-definition cable, and a premium black finish for the console, wireless controller, and Xbox Live headset.

A welcome iterative upgrade, the Elite still falls short compared to the PS3's multimedia credentials! The form factor remains unchanged, the Falcon isn't in mass production yet, and there's no Wi-Fi or HD DVD out-of-the-box. And, perhaps a deal breaker for some, US-based gamers are already reporting that the Xbox 360 Premium console is now sporting HDMI too!

This calls into question the Xbox 360 Elite's desirability and value. However, I'll leave that vexing conundrum to you and daydream about playing Virtua Fighter 5 (Xbox 360) on a redesigned machine using 45nm chips. Have a good weekend y'all.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

BioShock Boot Camp

BioShock (Xbox 360) is the "genetically enhanced" first person shooter that lets you do things never before possible in the genre: turn everything into a weapon, biologically mod your body with plasmids, hack devices and systems, upgrade your weapons and craft new ammo variants, and experiment with different battle techniques in an incredible and unique underwater city.

You are a cast-away in Rapture, an underwater Utopia torn apart by civil war. Caught between powerful forces, and hunted down by genetically modified splicers and deadly security systems, you have to come to grips with a deadly, mysterious world filled with powerful technology and fascinating characters. No encounter ever plays out the same, and no two gamers will play the game the same way.

BioShock is loaded with some of the greatest, most modifiable weapons to ever blast their way into a shooter. But guns alone won't be enough to defeat the devious AIs of Rapture. There are literally hundreds of other strategies players can use to take out their enemies.

Here are just a handful of reviews for this landmark video game:

Official Xbox Magazine (UK) 100/100
"Amazingly written and beautifully constructed, it's a complete emotional rollercoaster which we can't draw any parallels with. . . You'll be playing this game for months to come, exchanging story elements to build up the bigger picture, and arguing about what it all means."

Eurogamer Review 10/10
"It takes the tired, worn-out FPS genre by the scruff of the neck, reinvents and bends it out of shape in such a breathtaking fashion that it's going to take something very special to top this in the months and years ahead."

Gameinformer 10/10
"It’s ingenious, enthralling, and a masterpiece of the most epic proportions. In terms of delivering chilling atmosphere, dynamic combat, and startling revelations, games just don’t come any better than BioShock."

Gametap 10/10
"BioShock is one of the few games that I’ve reviewed in my entire career that I feverishly want to go back through and play again."

1up 10/10
". . . . . an experience that's richly and utterly complete, and one that engages the player in a constant dialogue, BioShock is virtually unassailable."

Games Radar 10/10
"A mesmerising masterpiece of horror, the only glaring weakness we can find in BioShock is that it may be too unusual, too original, too artistic and too genius to be embraced by the general public."

GamePro 5/5
"It leaves its mark on a genre that has its fair share of memorable titles and it does it with style and panache. It is easily one of the best games of the year."

Gamespy 5/5
"An unparalleled achievement. No other game comes even remotely close to it in terms of raw emotional connection."

UGO.com A
"There's nothing which will make you ever want to stop playing; you'll simply curse under your breath and get on with killing Splicers and hunting Little Sisters."

IGN 9.7/10
"BioShock stands as a monolithic example of the convergence of entertaining gameplay and an irresistibly sinister, engrossing storyline that encompasses a host of multifaceted characters. This is an essential gaming experience."

Teamxbox 9.5/10
"It's inventive and entertaining, with a number of twists and unexpected situations that'll have you on the edge of your seat. . . It's rare to find a game that has both quality in its engineering and quality in its gameplay."

PC Gamer (UK) 9.5/10
"Succeeds so stunningly on three fronts: narrative, emergence, and a sense of place. If another game did just one of these as well as BioShock, it would immediately qualify as a classic. When a game comes along that does all three, we can only be baffled and thankful."

Xbox World 360 9.4/10
"It's a gruelling game of resource management, and as the ammunition dries up, you end up having to improvise. And more often than not, Bioshock will reward you heavily for thinking outside the box."

Such unanimous praise, from the upper echelons of the gaming press, has convinced me to pre-order BioShock (PC), thus proving the maximum that 'Boot Camp is for Games' too! The more adventurous, amongst you, may even go as far as buying an Xbox 360 Elite to play this on!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Wii Board

Have you downloaded Wii firmware 3.0E, via software update, yet? If not, you're missing out on the following improvements and today's fix for the Opera browser and Wii LAN Adapter stability!

Channels:
*Digital Clock added to the Wii Menu right under the channel bar
*Forecast Channel now displays the current condition directly in the Wii Menu in the Forecast Channel box
*News Channel can now show 2 scrolling headlines at a time in the Wii Menu, 3 when you click on the button
*Message Board now has the "Today's Accomplishments" message as a white message which allows it to stand out from other messages
*Address Book entries can now be shifted around using A+B but only to empty spaces.
*Calendar in Message Board no longer shows "Today's Accomplishment"
*Scrolling messages in the Message Board now uses a different sound

Wii Shop Channel
*New Welcome screen detailing 4 Recommended Titles and the points they cost. The title bar can be clicked on to bring up a list of 20 recommended games.
*Titles You've Downloaded was moved to the main shop menu
*New ways to browse
*Popular Titles
*Newest Additions remains the same
*Search for a title which can use partial names
*Search by Category
*Search by Publisher
*Search by Genre
*System shows the different systems and how many titles have been released under each

Settings
Pre-system update warning details that technically modified consoles may cease to function upon being updated. Also the only way to not accept an update is to power down the console by holding the button for 4 seconds.

The most exciting unconfirmed development, specifically for peripheral junkies, is purported support for a USB keyboard within the Wii Shop! Time to connect my Apple keyboard to Wii.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Pimp Daddy Destro (PDD)

In the early hours I successfully made an offer on SDCC 2007 Exclusives: Alternator Rodimus and Titanium Menasor! The eBay seller agreed to sell both limited edition Transformers, highly prized by collectors, for £39.99! That's a bargain given that Alternator Rodimus has been fetching over £50 and UK importers are charging £29.99 for Titanium Menasor!

Now I'm on the look out for the SDCC 2007 Exclusive Pimp Daddy Destro or PDD as he's known in the collecting community. Pimp Daddy Destro has been reissued as part of Hasbro's celebration to mark the 25th Anniversary of the G.I. Joe franchise.

Destro (originally known as Red Jackal - a member of The Red Shadows - in the UK) remains one of my all-time favourite action figures. Again, if readers could help me with acquiring either a gold or silver variant, I'd be most grateful. Thank you.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Requesting SDCC Exclusive Alternator Rodimus

This author needs your help!

Can someone please assist me in procuring a Transformers Alternator Rodimus, which was an exclusive at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) 2007 and only sold at HasbroToyShop.com?

Hasbro has sold its entire online consignment and eBay prices are, invariably, too high!

Any tips, suggestions and assists regarding acquiring an Alternator Rodimus, leave a comment.

Thank you in advance.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Michael Jackson's Sonic 3 Album

How on Earth did this slip past my radar? Back in the late '80s Michael Jackson signed an endorsement deal with Sega America, which produced the arcade and Mega Drive smash hit Moonwalker (1990). A fact that I've covered in a previous post.

With the success of Sonic The Hedgehog (1991), Sega's blue mascot, reaching its zenith with the release of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (1992) (an essential Virtual Console purchase), Michael Jackson approached the Sega Technical Institute (STI), at one time an elite organisation within Sega America that developed acclaimed titles such as Kid Chameleon and Comix Zone, about scoring the soundtrack for the upcoming Sonic 3 (1994)!

Purportedly the completed score, composed, arranged and performed by Michael Jackson and the musicians who worked on the Dangerous (1991) recording sessions, was axed, at a very late stage of Sonic 3's development, due to the first public allegations of child molestation against the singer in 1993.

However, there's compelling evidence that some, if not all, of Michael Jackson's arrangements remained in the original release of Sonic 3 on the Mega Drive! Certainly the 'Dangerous sound' is unmistakeable and there's a hint of future projects HIStory (1995) and HIStory In The Mix (1997). It is worth noting that whilst Michael Jackson's official involvement was removed from all publicity and in-game end credits, his album session musicians, predominantly keyboard programmers, provided the final Sonic 3 score.

Bobby Brooks - engineer for Michael Jackson. Sequenced synthesizers and drums on Blood on the Dance Floor and mixed HIStory.

Darryl Ross
- vague, ill-defined resume credit: "Darryl Ross is an accomplished producer, musician, songwriter, arranger and vocalist. Artists he worked with are Michael Jackson...".

Geoff Grace
- arranger for Michael Jackson. Credited for arranging the music for Jackson's Dangerous tour.

Brad Buxer
- performed arranging, keyboards, sequencing and more for Blood on the Dance Floor and Invincible.

Doug Grigsby
- unknown credit on HIStory.

Of all Michael Jackson's keyboard virtuosos, Greg Phillinganes is notable by his absence! He has toured with Jackson and was a session keyboardist on his Sony solo albums.

Latterly Michael Jackson makes a cameo appearance in both Sega's Space Channel 5 and Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Jedi Master of My Domain

We all know that new iMacs are on their way today. Therefore this post will be self-indulgent and focus on the very blog that you are reading!

Blogger introduced custom domain name support in January 2007! This blog has been online for over 3 years and, somewhat belatedly, I've finally registered a domain name:

http://www.generationstarwars.com/

Redirection from http://johnhood.blogspot.com/ is automatic (what's called a 301 permanent redirect). But apologies, in advance, for any technical issues in the short-to-mid term. I've not experienced any issues using the following browsers Opera, Safari, Firefox or IE 7 (in Windows Vista Home Premium).

Subscribers to my RSS feed - powered by FeedBurner - do not have to make any changes to their subscription! Matt Shobe, at FeedBurner, confirmed that my decision to change the source feed from

http://johnhood.blogspot.com/atom.xml

to

http://www.generationstarwars.com/atom.xml

was correct. RSS goodness is uninterrupted.

I'm feverishly working on ways to minimise the impact of a domain name change on my search engine rankings - old Google PageRank was 4 (on the cusp of 5), new PageRank is 0. However, I'd encourage anyone setting up their site, who intends to blog frequently and in the longer term, to register a domain name as soon as possible! Maybe even prior to your blog going live or increased marketing activities.

Lastly, remember to create a new sitemap for your new domain and remove the existing one as Google may remove your site(s) from its search engine - duplicate content is a no, no!

Monday, 6 August 2007

The One

Looks like there's a bug (or three) with the latest Windows Live OneCare 2.0 Beta! OneCare Tune-up appears to run correctly, but upon completion reports innumerable errors! For example an unknown error prevented Disk Fragmentation (perhaps due to Boot Camp disk partitioning). However, when I log back in, it reports that the PC status is good. Initially I assumed that my Windows Vista Home Premium installation was at fault!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this story. My OEM (original equipment manufacturer) copy of Windows Vista Home Premium is installed, via Boot Camp, on Intel-based Mac hardware and presumably is not officially supported (if someone at Microsoft would like to clarify the company's position regarding Intel-based Mac hardware, I'd be happy to post). It is worth pointing out that product activation was successful. Therefore, if you're wondering whether or not to opt for the considerably cheaper OEM edition, I'd suggest that you go ahead, your bank manager will thank you.

I decided to post a query on The Windows Experience Blog. Brandon has kindly confirmed that this issue is affecting some (if not all) PCs too. I'll await the next automated update.

Overall Windows Live OneCare neatly integrates automated anti-virus and malware protection, updates, PC performance and backup services within a single easy-to-use front-end. Think .Mac, albeit splintered, during its infancy.

I doubt if I'll be using Windows Vista Home Premium enough to justify purchasing an annual subscription once the free trial ends. Should .Mac integrate Google goodies sans subscription (as early as tomorrow's new Mac announcements and evinced by current iDisk outages), Microsoft maybe forced to review its subscription-based strategy. This would be a win-win for both Mac and Windows users.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

"Underwater, no one can hear you scream."

Nerd alert!

Spent a pleasant afternoon basking in the sunshine on Exmouth seafront and envisaging Transformers Seacons, an aquatic team of Decepticons that combined to form Piranacon (known as King Poseidon in Japan), harassing swimmers, jet skiers and kite surfers! Old habits die hard, blame Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975) and the recent media moral panic surrounding alleged Great White shark sightings off of the Cornish coast!

A monolithic menace. The diabolical combination of the five Seacons who comprise him. Master at undersea warfare. Few Autobots can outdistance him or escape his evil clutches. Destroys everything in his path with ghoulish glee. A troublemaker and malcontent. Rarely follows orders. Fellow Decepticons are unable to control him. Capable of creating colossal tidal waves over 300 feet high. Because of his incredible size, Piranacon's reflexes are impaired out of water. Armed with the Seacons' entire arsenal of firepower.

This evening I've been analysing site search statistics. And the top two search terms for this blog are:

1). Jennifer Love Hewitt
2). Scarlett Johansson

Hmm...

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Prime Time

I've bitten the bullet! Transformers Movie - Leader Optimus Prime is on order from Amazon.co.uk!

For thousands of years, Optimus Prime and his Autobots have travelled through space in search of the Allspark. For all that time, the Autobot leader has held one goal in mind - to protect the universe from the evil of Megatron. For this massive, metal warrior, nothing is more important than freedom; he will sacrifice all for its preservation. He has fought for centuries, modifying his body into an unstoppable war machine, preparing for that day he knows is coming when he and Megatron meet for one final battle!

Get ready to rule the universe with this awesome Optimus Prime figure that features Advanced Automorph Technology! This Transformers technology is designed to enhance vehicle-to-robot conversion with partially animated mechanical triggers that activate the final shift to battle mode. See armor slide to protect vital points! Flip down the Ion Blaster in robot mode to launch the projectile! And press the button in vehicle mode for electronic horn sounds and lights!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

A World Transformed



It is a world Transformed. Where things are not what they seem. It is the world of The Transformers. A world of Heroic Autobots and Evil Decepticons.

I'll presage this review with the following caveats. Transformers are one of my all-time favourite toy lines (an admission made in many a previous post)! The notion of a live-action movie, directed by Michael Bay, left me apathetic. I really enjoyed The Island (2005)!

Knowing that this movie was going to be big on excess, I hadn't foreseen that the regular Pepsi, I'd purchased in the cinema foyer, would be super-sized too! Fellow Star Wars fans maybe interested to learn that a very cool Nintendo Wii redemption machine spouted sound effects and dialogue from our beloved saga! At first I thought I was hallucinating - RD-D2 beeps and Obi-Wan Kenobi intoned "Trust your feelings!"

Not since Jurassic Park (1993) has an audience (myself included) been so willingly caught up in movie mayhem - like osmosis. This happened during Saturday evening's showing of Transformers at the Odeon, Colchester. Incidentally, I watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and For Your Eyes Only (1981) at this venue.

Unlike Steven Spielberg's deft (if no less commercial) decision to delay the dinosaur reveal in Jurassic Park for up to an hour. Michael Bay, aided and abetted by Spielberg's distrust of a generation exposed to instant gratification, thrusts us, tumbling, into the action!

Blackout, a monstrous Decepticon, and the first Transformer introduced, makes a bombastic entry; heralded by a cacophony of sonic booms that would delight even the most demanding fan of James Cameron tech noir. Keep your ears peeled for the classic Transformers transformation sound, taken from the original Marvel cartoon series, now amped-up to deafening levels and with no signs of distortion. This sent chills of excitement down my spine!

There's much to enjoy not least the attention to detail lavished on the Transformers, themselves, by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Whether watching charismatic lead Sam Witwicky (played by Shia LaBeouf) whose empathy with Bumblebee, an Autobot scout, recounts Elliot's friendship with E.T. (1982) or an Autobot titan emerge from a suburban swimming pool and step over a young girl carrying a plush My Little Pony (another successful Hasbro franchise, which shared names with Transformers and G.I. Joe. For example, Beachcomber, Cosmos, and Seaspray were both My Little Ponies and Transformers characters, and Firefly was both a My Little Pony and a G.I. Joe character).

There's humour too! And laugh-out-loud you will! Sam Witwicky astride his mother's bicycle and pursued by Bumblebee, brought the house down and could have been taken from any number of popular Spielberg produced movies such as The Goonies (1985) or Explorers (1985). Frenzy (the original toy was an audio tape cassette and one of the earliest Transformers I owned), an impish switchblade endoskeleton of a Decepticon, delights in Gremlins (1984) mayhem, droid-like discourses and an homage to John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). Diagetic and non-diagetic sound is used to underscore the comedy too.

Enter Optimus Prime. Of all the Transformers, Optimus Prime is held in greatest reverence (on a personal note my late mother bought me the original Optimus Prime - as a surprise gift - whilst I was off, sick, from school in 1984). No longer a Freightliner Cab-over-engine. Prime's alternate mode, a Peterbilt 379, replete with stylish flame decals, reminded me of Kenner's M.A.S.K Rhino toy (Kenner merged with Hasbro in the early 90's). When he gracefully transforms into a gleaming god-like mecha I gulped and wiped tears from my eyes!

Advertising aplenty! A movie about toys wouldn't be ironic sans product placements! And Transformers is filled to the max with Hewlett Packard, Apple and endless eBay expositions.

Aside from the usual gripes levelled at Michael Bay - disorientating camera angles propelled by dizzying editing and jarring slow-mo, which culminates in a palpable sense of nausea (taking the roller coaster metaphor too literally). All-in-all Transformers transported me back to a galaxy far, far away and left me smiling from ear-to-ear.