__A while ago, I posted a whole slew of top ten lists on this blog, the first of which was my favourite video games. Well, that list has recently gone through quite a few changes, not the least of which is that I’ve expanded it to a top fifteen, so I decided it was worth posting the updated version.
__Just to reiterate, while I did grow up playing games, and still maintain an interest in it today, I’m not what you’d call a gamer. (Actually, my best friend John’s a far more avid gamer than I am, and it’s thanks to him that I came across many of the games on this list in the first place. 🙂 ) But, with that said, I have played several that strike me as real masterpieces. So many, in fact, that I came up with five runners-up that I felt deserved to be highlighted in the list proper instead of briefly commented on at the end, so I decided to expand the list from a top ten to a top fifteen.
__I should point out, by the way, that most of these games aren’t exclusive to the platforms I specify. Most modern-generation games are released for every console, as well as the PC. I’ve played several of these games on multiple platforms; I’m just listing the ones I like best.
__So, without further ado, let’s get started. 🙂 Continue reading
__Let’s talk Mass Effect 3 again. 🙂
__Ever since I played through the whole trilogy last May, Mass Effect has pretty much become my obsession as of late. Some of you may recall that I, like so many others, was so displeased and downright outraged by the ending of Mass Effect 3 that I posted a two-thousand-word rant about it on my blog before I reviewed the game itself.
__But I realise now that my intense hatred for the ending was simply because I took it at face value. Yes, at first glance, the ending is a confusing mess littered with plot holes and offensive to everything the Mass Effect series stands for, but a certain fan theory that really caught on has found a deeper meaning in it that understandably went over most of our heads. The Indoctrination Theory is the most popular theory out there that attempts to make sense of the ending, and now it’s gained one more supporter in me, thanks mainly to CleverNoobs’ trilogy of documentaries on the subject. Fans have come up with a whole suite of arguments to back it up, based on hints dropped throughout the game. And I’m here today to list the ones that I believe most strongly.
__Now, I’m sure this goes without saying, but this post will contain heavy spoilers. So if you haven’t played Mass Effect 3 (hell, the whole trilogy) yet, I highly recommend you do so before reading this.
__So, for the rest of my fellow Mass Effect fans, let’s go. 🙂 Continue reading
__Welcome to another batch of mini reviews, consisting of all the movies I’ve seen and all the games I’ve played over the last month or so. 🙂
__Let’s start at the cinema.
It Comes at Night (2017)
__As an unnatural threat terrorises the world, a family’s social order is tested when another family arrives seeking refuge.
__First of all, the title is a bit of a misnomer: whatever “it” is, it doesn’t come just at night!
__From a writing standpoint, I won’t hesitate to give this movie a firm thumbs-up. I love how these characters approach the situation in an intelligent, resourceful manner; it might actually be the most realistic depiction of a survival situation I’ve seen since Night of the Living Dead.
__Unfortunately, the performance lets it down considerably for me. I’m not a fan of thrillers that adopt an unnaturally hushed, reserved tone; I prefer when they’re a bit more energised and, you know, thrilling.
__So it’s definitely a good movie, but too slow-paced and understated for my taste.
__My rating: 70%. Continue reading
__John Marston, a former outlaw, is forced by the federal government to hunt down the members of his old gang.
__Oh, the enemies I’m going to make for this one! I’m just going to say it upfront: I did not like this game. I know I’m in a small minority on this, but I can’t just pretend I’m as enraptured as everyone else. On the contrary: this game made me angry! I simply couldn’t condense my thoughts to 250 words, so I’ve decided to make this a longer review than usual, turn this into an epic rant. Also, fair warning: this review will contain spoilers.
__Before I start ranting, though, I will admit that the game looks stunning. The graphics are stellar, and the map is meticulously planned and detailed. The most fun I had was riding around admiring the scenery, especially on clear starry nights. A lot of the character interactions made me laugh, too. But that’s where my compliments end. Everything else was just plain torturous!
__At every turn, this game found some new way to piss me off; there are too many examples to count! But the main source of my rage was the pacing of the narrative. At first, I was only mildly interested in the story. The goal was to stop Bill Williamson, and that single clear-cut goal is what held my interest as I assembled a team to storm his fort. But when it turned out he wasn’t even there, I was furious! That was my equivalent of “our princess is in another castle”. Continue reading
__Sometimes I neglect to write reviews on my blog for a long time, to the point where they pile up and I have no inclination to do anything more than copy and paste from my Twitter feed. But recently, I’ve started pushing myself to not put off writing for so long, so my “first impressions” posts are starting to become more frequent and hopefully more earnest and detailed. I’m not sure what’s changed lately – maybe it’s the fact that I recently joined a Discord server (basically a chat room) that’s given my almost nonexistent social life a bit of a boost – but in any case, I seem to have found my drive for writing once again. 🙂 I’m not sure how long it’ll last, as I tend to lose that drive again sooner or later, but until then, let’s make the most of it.
__I always start these compilations with the films I’ve seen in the cinema, which number two in this case.
Baby Driver (2017)
__After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.
__As this is a heist drama, the only way I could do justice to the story would be to describe the whole plot, and obviously I’d rather not do that. 🙂 But it’s not so much the details of the heist that hold your attention: it’s the characters. Every single character is so brilliantly written and realised that you remember and grow attached to every single one. And on that note, the performances are all top-notch. Ansel Elgort is great as the eponymous Baby: he’s equal parts funny, aloof and vulnerable, and his chemistry with Lily James is superb. One of my favourite cast members is Jon Hamm as Buddy, who’s probably the character who changes the most over the course of the narrative.
__But what makes this truly special is Edgar Wright’s direction. He’s simply one of the best directors working today, and his flawless eye for camerawork and editing is once again on full display here. Just don’t go in expecting the full-on comedies he’s done before. Yes, there are comedy elements, but they’re there to enhance the connection to the characters so that we fear for them later on.
__And yes, they do play the Simon & Garfunkel song the movie’s named after. 🙂
__I loved this movie. I’d say it’s definitely a top contender for my favourite movie of the year so far.
__My rating: 85%. Continue reading
__I’d actually watched a few Let’s Plays of Batman: The Telltale Series before playing it myself. Well, this week, I finally did. I had to play it on the PS4, though, because this is the first Telltale game that my laptop just couldn’t handle; I couldn’t even make it through the opening cutscene, because it had to load for like ten seconds every time it switched location! Now, granted, I also experienced some loading delays with The Walking Dead: A New Frontier (which ruined the effect of that jaw-dropping shock at the end of episode one), but to nowhere near the same extreme.
__Bruce Wayne struggles to deal with newly surfaced damning family secrets while, as Batman, fighting a new threat: a militia group calling themselves “the Children of Arkham”.
__When I first heard that Telltale was going to do a Batman game, I suspected it might focus more on Bruce Wayne than Batman, which would better suit Telltale’s style – and it’d be a welcome new approach. I predicted correctly, and the result didn’t disappoint. 🙂 The problems he has to deal with as Bruce Wayne in this story are, quite simply, stellar.
__That’s not to say it doesn’t deliver on the Batman front, though. In particular, if you choose to visit Mayor Hill as Batman, the resulting scene is too cool for words! 🙂
__Now, spoilers here, but what I love most about this game is how creative it gets with the Batman mythos, with some ingenious new twists. I love its idea that Bruce Wayne and Oswald Cobblepot were childhood friends. I love Bruce questioning the foundation of his entire crusade after learning the truth about his parents. I love who they picked for the Children of Arkham leader’s identity, and the deeply disturbing reason why. And I love the Joker treating Bruce as a friend and partner in their first meeting, which adds a whole new dynamic to their future relationship.
__Overall, I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve seen from Telltale story-wise, but it’s still on par in terms of characterisation, respect for the franchise in question, and subverting your expectations.
__My rating: 85%.
__An Archdemon is amassing an army of Darkspawn, and the player, one of the last remaining Grey Wardens, must work to unite the fractured armies and save the land of Ferelden.
__If you’re one of this game’s many fans, I’m afraid I must disappoint you: I can’t quite concur. At times, the game almost won me over. I always enjoyed talking to my companions, especially developing the romance with Morrigan, and I loved some particular sections: the Sloth Demon level (in theory, at least), the Brecilian Ruins, the escape from Fort Drakon, and the riddles protecting the Urn of Sacred Ashes. I could probably write a further 250 words or more just about my character’s personal journey. 🙂
__But it’s all ruined by the most frequent gameplay mechanic: the combat. I hate this game’s combat system with a fiery passion! Your attacks are sluggish, and the enemies seem to have an unfair advantage because they swarm you in insanely big groups and attack faster than you can fight back – or heal, for that matter! Maybe I’m just not a good enough gamer, but in any case, it’s for this reason that I haven’t yet seen the ending: because I found the final boss battle to be so gruelling that I knew my efforts to beat it would enrage me to the point that it would be hazardous to my health!
__So my overall impression of this game is mixed at best. I enjoyed myself somewhat, but only when I wasn’t fighting.
__My rating: 65%.
__Actually, since I said I could write all about my character’s personal journey, I think I will! 🙂 I’ll add an extra section to go into detail about how I played and what I felt was going through my character’s head. It seems prudent to give a spoiler alert for this section, as I will be talking about some things that happen near the end. Continue reading