First Impressions: “Red Dead Redemption” (PS3)

Red Dead Redemption__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

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First Impressions Review Diary 8-Jul-2017

__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)
Baby Driver__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

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First Impressions: “Batman: The Telltale Series” (PS4)

__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.

Batman - The Telltale Series__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%.

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First Impressions: “Dragon Age: Origins” (PS3) (+ More on “Mass Effect 3”)

Dragon Age - Origins__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

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Spiders in “Dragon Age: Origins”

__I’m currently spending my free time playing Dragon Age: Origins. Yeah, after completing and (for the most part) loving the Mass Effect trilogy, I decided to check out BioWare’s other big seller. 🙂 I’ll save my thoughts on the game as a whole for my next “first impressions” post, but for now, I have something to say about one type of enemy you encounter: the spiders.
__Now, most other times I’ve encountered giant spiders in games, they’ve freaked me out bigtime! Resident Evil and Skyrim immediately spring to mind. But for some reason, the spiders in Dragon Age: Origins don’t bother me at all, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on why that is.
__First of all, let me point out, I am not afraid of spiders in real life. Continue reading

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First Impressions Review Diary 3-Jun-2017

__Welcome back. 🙂 I haven’t seen that many movies lately, so this post will focus more on the games I’ve been playing. I spent nearly all my free time throughout the month of May playing all three instalments in the Mass Effect trilogy in a row. Then the final episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead: A New Frontier came out, so now’s the perfect time to sum up my thoughts on all the episodes of the third season as a whole.

__But before all that, we start, as always, at the cinema. 🙂 Here are the three movies I’ve gone to see since I last checked in…

Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Ghost in the Shell__In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: a human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.
__Let me preface this by saying I haven’t read the Ghost in the Shell manga – I’ve only seen the classic 1995 movie – so I came at this movie from a different perspective than a hardcore fan might: I was simply comparing one movie to another. As a remake, it gave me a somewhat different story, yes, but it came across to me as an extremely derivative one. A cyborg getting flashes of memory from their past life and trying to figure out their identity? Now, where have I heard that before? Yeah, you get my drift: the plot is literally just RoboCop! Any similarities to Ghost in the Shell are purely superficial references, like the invisible street fight, the underwater scene and the climactic tank battle. (Speaking of which, that scene seems surprisingly so much smaller and less grandiose than the animated version.) Continue reading

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My Words on the Manchester Attack

__After posting my epic rant on Mass Effect 3‘s ending, I realised I also had something to say about another, far more serious topic. As if to pour salt on the wound after my experiencing that infuriating conclusion, the universe threw yet another major piece of bad news at me upon waking up this morning: the news of a bomb attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.
__I haven’t been this angry at the world since the 2012 cinema shootout in Aurora. Not to sound cold, but I’ve kind of become desensitised to this kind of bad news. Violence like this is happening in the Middle East all the time, but we westerners only seem to take notice when it happens on our doorstep. But when it happens at entertainment venues, that’s when it hits especially hard for me: these people were just coming out to have a good time, only to have their lives ruined by an incident like this.
__My deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of all the people who were involved, but there’s something else I have to say. Continue reading

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