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Rise of the Tomb Raider – Xbox One Review – Buy this game if you want to creep out your neighbours! – SPOILERS

Many moons ago, Josh reviewed the first instalment of Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider revival and spoke in detail about how much he enjoyed it. A few months later, I got my hands on it and loved it to pieces also, but will the latest episode hold its ground to its epic older sibling?No

No.

In all reality, its a huge disappointment that has left me rather bitter. The previous Tomb Raider was an all-round quality game. Its visuals were impeccable, gameplay was fun, different and based heavily on survival and the story used that. It developed the origin story to one of gaming’s most prominent characters that is loved the world around, whether its through movies or gaming. Rise of the Tomb Raider is a shit show.

Every single advert I saw brought huge attention to their review quotes, the Daily Star in particular said “Visually Stunning” and threw a whopping 5 stars its way. So, lets begin with that. First of all, its the Daily Star, so I don’t need to go much further with that. Secondly, why are the visuals selected over everything else within the game? Well that my friends is because that is all this game has. Beautiful landscapes, levels, tombs and character details do not make a quality game, just great quality cutscenes. And trust me, you’ll see plenty of those. In fact, so much so that you’ll wonder if you’re the one playing the game. Now, don’t get me wrong, I play Telltale games and they’re big, explosive adventures with a storyline so gripping, you can’t help but feel like you’ve lost a little bit of your soul when you lose a beloved character, and the majority is a sequence of cutscenes with varying quick time events (QTEs) and doesn’t have much in the way of raw gameplay. But this. This is shameful.

So, its “Visually Stunning” and hell, I can agree with that. Until it comes down to animations. When you move around the map, all is fine, its when you are involved in the action that it really falters. Running through endless hallways from a threat that can’t hit a barn with a minigun from 30 yards is something you experience often and explosions miles away from you fling you whether you were near it or not. Say you’re a little slow and something crashes through the wall ahead of you, instantly you’re thrown into the wall as if it had actually hit and that is just poor planning. Like it or not, this shit happens way too often. Climbing up rock faces, boundaries are ridiculous and cause Lara to spaz out trying as she tries to work out which direction she wants to go and if you approach a ledge, you’re lurched up onto it with a body that seems to be able to do the impossible. Not to mention the absolutely retarded falling mechanic which often freezes her mid-jump as she floats to the ledge that she may or may not decide to grab which results in a frozen corpse falling down the crevasse with a solid thud at the bottom.

On the topics of thuds, I’ve got to be honest, I would have loved a lot more focus on sound and music. One thing that should have been Tomb Raider 2worked on is the voice acting. Sure, Camilla Luddington does a good job as Lara. We saw that in the previous, but lets get to the brass tacks, I don’t want to listen to a symphony of her moans and groans as she jumps across sections in what can only be described as a mass orgy porn flick. With little knowledge of what is actually going on next door, your neighbour may never look at you the same. Not to mention that any element of stealth is thrown out the window as the groans echo across the cavern like smashing a plate in a crowded restaurant.

What of gameplay? Well, as I said, stealth is something that honestly makes no sense. Its use in the game is to reinforce the survival aspect involved but also the fragility of Croft, however its of no use. Very few sections require stealth and when they do, you’re tasked with killing everyone in the area rather than moving around and escaping the danger without turning into a one-woman army. Not forgetting the fact that you fart loud enough and everyone knows where you are, even if you’ve skulked off quietly in another direction. So, what happens next? Well, that fragile girl that is fighting for survival pulls out an AK-47 and mows down anyone near and crafts a menagerie of grenades and weaponry to kill them with varying degrees of brutality. Now I’ve spoken about character animations, but lets talk about her role as a historian. This “archaeologist” is armed from the get go but also has a distinct lack of interest in preserving anything. Everything she touches breaks. This so called archaeologist has broken everything to get one thing that, spoiler alert, she breaks! She kills hundreds of people, murders countless animals to get new crafting materials and destroys anything she touches. At Least Indie had the decency to kill Nazis. But lets not stop there! How about all that progression she made in the original game? She’s forgotten it all. Literally everything has gone. It seems as if she survived, only to suffer a concussion when she got on the plane home and that really halts the immersion for a returning player. Perhaps if there was a bigger push towards weapon upgrades, progression and skills could have been done through that medium, not by erasing all previous progress.

Now we hit the real big issue, the story. Honestly it is a huge cluster fuck of sexual tension and daddy issues that make pornographic plot lines seem clever and highly under appreciated. Trident, a group of bible bashing Christians are after a tool for immortality that was created by Jesus. We track it down, they follow us, a twist occurs that was as obvious as an Afro-American at a KKK clan meeting, we find Jesus and escape together with the sexual tension so thick, you’d give Donald Trump a run for his money. So we are up against a bunch of clueless, delirious, religious nut jobs with a shit ton of money. Only to find out that this Trident force aren’t done yet! We’ve got another one on route, just this time we might get away without the infuriating daddy issues that turned a survivalist into a drag.

 

Its not hard, I’m sure you’ve caught my drift by this point. Its not the Tomb Raider I wanted. Its not what should have been. You can’t polish a turd and it seems like the graphics department tried their best to cover up the story that seemed apt for a teen novel. Including the removal of the rather enjoyable multiplayer scene, this game has taken a huge leap backwards rather than innovating and giving their loyal fans hope in a system of games that annualise the same thing year on year for inflated prices only to be slapped with a season pass on launch that costs an extra 50% that adds little to the experience in a game more baron than Katie Hopkin’s soul.

6/10 – This is becoming all to common.

Tomb Raider

Fallout 4 – War Never Changes – Xbox One Quicky Review – MINOR SPOILERS

Fallout 2One of the biggest games of the year has dropped. We are back in the Wastelands of Boston. A lone Vault Dweller on the hunt for their son, armed with an arsenal of guns and some rusted power armour. We are a pre-war relic who watched the bombs drop on the US. We fled to the Vault and were lured into cryostat chambers that froze us for over 200 years until one day we wake, in a daze we watch as our wife/husband’s casket is opened and the baby ripped from their hands and a bullet lodged into their skull and then we freeze again. Waking up again, we manage to escape and witness the effects of the experiments created by Vault Tech industries and we stagger out into the open to see what happened to our home. Now, this is as much as a can say without dropping some big spoilers but considering I’ve only logged in about 25 hours of gameplay so far and 5 of those are in the actual quest line, what little I have experienced so far is fascinating and incredibly engaging.

My experience with Fallout is very limited. I’ve watched gameplay footage from the first game and played a few hours in Fallout 3. I enjoyed the experience but I got frustrated when I ended up wandering the wasteland in zones way to big for me. So much so, I got lost and never managed to make it back. Since then, I’ve matured (a little) and have experienced the ever amazing Skyrim and find myself more than competent to progress through this. So I’m not fully versed into the narrative of the world but I know the lore behind the Vaults and the effects its had on the world and the mutated wildlife that has taken control of the environment.

Obviously as a company they would have cut a few corners to make them optimum for next generation consoles and this has been done by utilizing various parts from previous titles such as the animations from Skyrim. Now this isn’t too much of a problem. For something so large scale, I tend to be a lot more lenient but a little variation wouldn’t go a miss. Now here is the big issue that people raised prior to launch and that was the visual quality. Trailers made it look a little cartoonish but dropping in myself, I think its a gorgeous art style for a world ravaged by radiation for 200 years and it is much easier on the resources available. Now this hasn’t stopped the game from loosing frames rapidly when loading areas and in combat situation and that comes down to poor optimization across the consoles which could have been resolved had it been play tested correctly. Otherwise it looks fantastic and the quality is fantastic. Sure, its not Square Enix levels of detail with incredible hair physics but its good enough.

As it stands, I had no idea what to expect from this. With the rate of triple A titles dropping that suck and the bombardment of early access games supported by industry giants that really don’t live up to their own hype and run when shit gets difficult, faith in the industry is a little fractured, just look at the PC port of Arkham Knight. I had prepared myself for the worst. I worried about wandering off into the wasteland and never coming back home armed with nothing more than a kitchen knife, but I was wrong. I love it. I was hooked within the first 20 minutes. The opening sequence, War Never Changes is one of the most striking cinematics I’ve ever seen (Click the link to watch Sip’s playthrough and experience the opening cutscene and some gameplay). Its a gorgeously filmed and animated piece that shows you the events that led up to the “Great War” that created this lawless world as narrated by our lead man. As the cutscene disappears, we are greeted by our narrator and his wife looking in a mirror readying themselves for the day ahead, this is our character customisation and creation. The customisation is a bit of a fiddle but its extensive and deep enough that you could almost create yourself. All the way through the process, both of the characters chat, little bits of information around items you’ve just changed from witty quips to cute interactions that made them feel so human, so real and then you begin your day. Walking to the crib of your new born to say morning,greeting your robot babysitter that does all the dirty jobs around the house and living the daily routine while the news chatters away in the background. We all know the bombs are dropping and shit goes wild, I won’t ruin anything from here for you but its such a touching experience that gives the characters an incredible amount of story in such a short space of time, even if the baby does look like its farther was actually an alien…Fallout

How about its core mechanics? The shooter aspect is very clean, weapon variation has been fairly limited and buying weapons is pretty much a definite no no. Modification of the weapons is the best way to increase your chance of survival and they’re giant, from tons of saw blades too new receivers and various other pieces that physically change the aesthetic of the weapons too. Alongside the classic VATS system that now slows time down, means you have to make on the fly choices on where to hit and the estimated damage can significantly drop by the time you accept your desired choices. One of the biggest talking points is the power armour. The Fusion powered heavy armour that gives you a huge level of strength and protection is great fun and getting it from the start of the game allows you to survive the harsh environment a lot more effectively, however, its cumbersome to obtain the Fusion Cores to run the armour as they either cost a fortune or you have to find locations and caches out in the world. I, however, stole a ton because the guides online were actually wrong for my playthrough. If you were playing the Fallout Shelter app that released earlier this year on the reveal of the game, you’ll love this next section. You can have bases. You craft items, make sure your people have beds, food and defences to protect them. Its a cathartic experience that I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time and effort working on. It doesn’t have much of a purpose yet but its a typical thing that would appear in such an environment. As for the rest of the core mechanics, many are derived from Skyrim. Slight differences in skill management but the typical dialogue tree is very basic and doesn’t allow for a variety of choice dependant on skill.

To sum it up in the briefest ways possible, we are back in Skyrim. They’ve taken something successful and implemented it into one of their other titles and added a load of extra little features.  If you enjoyed Skyrim, its a guarantee that you’ll love this. The Music is phenomenal and side quests are really where your time is going to be spent, whether you mean to or not. Its a game that is going to last. Not a 6 hour campaign with so many hours of multiplayer that is a literal repeat, over and over again. Its varied and probably has a good hundred or so hours crammed in that are immersing and engaging. Its taken pieces from other titles, albeit bearable, there is no variation between them and that really knocks it out of you and characters have no facial expressions with very little mouth synchronisation in conversation which is fairly poor for new titles. Considering that is is highly addictive and I’m shooting through this, just so I can get back to playing it is testament enough to how enjoyable it is (I’ve hardly been on ARK too!). At £40, its value for money. Its not often that you get hundreds of hours playtime with very little bugs and glitches. There are a few glitches, one has surfaced in the last few days that can crash the game completely across all consoles and I’ve witnessed mutated bears moonwalking up trees but for the current gaming era, its got most of its shit together and thoroughly deserves..

8/10!

PS – Deathclaws be scary

 

Fallout 1

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 – WHEN WILL IT STOP!? – Xbox One Review

CoD BOAbout 6 years ago, I began my foray into the Call of Duty series with Modern Warfare 2 for my brand new Xbox 360. MW2 is the most beloved and coolest CoD game to date, ever since, I’ve made sure to get my hands on them and play them but nothing lived up to Infinity Ward’s quality. The game took a huge hit with Black Ops. It’s quality was naff and it’s general gameplay and story were duller than a blunt kitchen knife. It seemed a trend but does it stop here?

Well…Not really. We are 40 years after the events of Black Ops 2, subtle references to the villain of the past give reasoning to the huge amount drones and their constant reliance on something so easily manipulated, as we keep finding out. We are a nameless character, male or female with the ability to choose from a selection of facial pre-sets. The male voice is played by Farscape’s Ben Browder and the female by Abby Brammell. We are also joined by a whole host of faces and names throughout from Christopher Meloni, Neal McDonough, Ron Perlman, Robert Picardo, Jeff Goldblum, Tony Amendola and the legendary Nolan North to mention a few. Its not only their voices, many of them have their faces digitally mapped into the game much like Advanced Warfare’s Kevin Spacey and Troy Baker to create another selling point. Now sure, they look good and it was cool to see a few familiar faces but it didn’t add much, especially when you watch the movement of the faces during dialogue and all you see is an empty black hole into the abyss. I wouldn’t have been surprised to have seen someone’s hand and a couple black lines from the side of the mouth too their chins. As for the general voice acting, its was alright. Now we shift to our character. The need to even create one is rather obscure, you only see yourself in a few transitions prior to levels and in game cutscenes, so its general need could have been fulfilled in a far more practical manner – AKA, not have it at all. The quality of our face is also far less than that of any other character so its difficult to justify why they simply didn’t use their voice actors like every other character. Typically, as ever, there is a bad guy. We need to find them and kill them. This time however, its a “complicated” story of AI, CIA and biotech enhancements on your squad. Rather than spoil anything, you have a chip in your brain that allows you to control certain aspects of the world around you and give you advantages on the battlefield. But, we never started with this. In fact our first mission is us diving into Egypt to save a high ranking official. Upon rescuing him, we are treated to a rather impromptu massage from a defective masseuse that pulls a couple limbs off and uses them to beat me into oblivion. But all is not lost! Rescued by an elite group of operatives fitted with biotech chips, top of the line prosthetics and Meloni at the helm, the very same organisation that we join in return for saving our life. Now as a story, its lives under its own guise of “oh so complicated” when in actual fact, its a very basic story that decides to throw some of its Nazi zombie features in for no apparently reason other than, “eh, fuck it”. Character development is non-existent and the attempted love/relationship story arises from nowhere and vanishes quicker than a fart in the wind.


So what else is there? Anything new you may be asking?. Well there are a couple things. One is the biotech chips which give you a select amount of abilities that can control the flow of enemies and remove threats more effectively. Some allow remote hacking of devices for control purposes while others garner the ability to fuck shit up and implode combat drones. They’ve also reduced strafing abilities from AW,CoD BO 1 only giving you a forward slide which is a faff in general as its only engaged while running at a certain speed so its a little bit annoying for sliding between cover. It’s also taken another leaf from AW but we all know that this leaf came right from Titanfall and that is the wall running ability, but this time you have to unlock it with points rather than it being part of your super solider get-up and its a really clunky affair. Its not smooth and its hardly used. Unless you’re like me and it suddenly appears that you need it to cross a gap for 1 section and you didn’t unlock it because it was already part of your training and you presumed you still had it!…

Visually the game looks sharp. Some textures aren’t perfect and as I’ve already mentioned, faces lack a good form of animation and suffer from looking like clay or wax models. But its not all bad. The UI HUD is fantastic. Very simple and easy to use and the tactical elements included give some great guidance throughout and reveal kill zones and enemy locations. However, when setting my safe boundaries, loading screens prior to levels completed ignored that and cut the majority of the level names out which was a rather infuriating issue that bugged me consistently. The music is okay. Nothing dramatically amazing that sticks to mind but the sound effects need toning down. I was playing with the stereo output via the controller with my Razer Kraken Neon Pro’s at a decent level but voices were often distant and the explosions were physically painful.

 Now, multiplayer. The only reason anyone buys these games? Probably. My experience is short and it’ll stay that way with Fallout 4 on my lap, Tomb Raider on the back of a truck on route to me and Star War Battlefront so soon after. I opened it up to be greeted by a selection of classes. Typical destroyers and abilities were attached to them which would have certain effects within the game, their genders can’t change but they have a variety of customisable pieces. So, jumping into my first game, I’ve already been kicked out of 3 and joined lobbies where nothing happens at all. Team balancing takes an age and starting and getting into a game is just agonisingly long when you just want to play a single round. Perhaps its the Xbox’s awful wifi receiver connection or perhaps its the CoD servers being rammed or more than likely, a combination of both. Levels gained in the campaign also do not affect the online multiplayer meaning that it is useless to have such an unnecessary mechanic. But considering I finally managed to make in into a game, lets talk about it. Bearing in mind it was one map and my only match so far, it was alright. I fell off the high-rise building a few times and often got myself lost looking for people who blended into the environment making them rather difficult to see. Upon entering the round, we are greeted by a League of Legends (Maybe Dota, I don’t play it) player roster that details the enemy players and what class they are running, once again, a pretty useless addition that tries to give the illusion of strategy to then round out the match with a podium finish of those who performed the best that features a short bit of dialogue from the top character. Honestly one of the most cringy experiences I’ve ever had to witness in a game. Now here is my biggest gripe. I can hear where the enemy team is. Not because of their footsteps or movement but because the characters are screaming and shouting. In close quarter situations, its becomes a cluster of shouting that draws more and more people in and any element of surprise is removed when some bell shouts “Enemy down!” at the top of their lungs. 

Now has the game changed? No. Not at all. If you scrap all of the tiny little additions of the player rosters and the “new guns” You’ll probably see the lifeless corpse of Treyarch’s World at War and Infinity Studio looking back in disgust at the desecration of the classic Call of Duties that made the series such a big hitter in the market. Now, I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it. In fact, I’m sure it’ll continue for a few years now with the same dull and boring story with minute mechanic changes because its audience so wholly digest it, they cannot actually comprehend that the series is simultaneously fucking them while gradually feeding them more content so they keep their mouths shut. We are left with a series that is watching its audience become self-aware (perhaps that’s what the story was really going for) and see what they’re paying for year on year.

Use Cara Delevingne as much as you want. It ain’t going to make the game good! 6/10

Buy it cheap, play it for a few hours and watch as the map packs destroy and displace the player base.

Cod BO 2

Halo 5: Guardians – The gift that doesn’t give – Xbox One Review

Let’s get straight to the point, I’m no Halo fanatic. In fact, I didn’t care very much for him. I picked up the series from 3 and just enjoyed shooting stuff. Even more so when I probably paid £20 for the lot making it worth the investment. Now I thought I’d change that and jump onto the pre-order bandwagon for Halo 5. Was it worth it? Hell nah

For anyone who has read previous articles, you’ll be well aware that I enjoy story. Halo’s trailers depicted a rogue Master Chief being chased down by another Spartan called Locke; a hench dude with a a beard that looks like he’s drawn it on with a whiteboard marker. Surrounded by rubble, the 2 variants features both characters in vice versa roles drawing their weapon to shoot the restrained one. The whole world appeared to be mourning the death of Chief and the whole thing looked very distopian. Jump into the game and its dramatically different. There is only one confrontation between the characters and this is just over the halfway mark in the game, so about 3-4 hours in and lasts a mere 30 seconds. Chief isn’t dead and the world has a far different threat to deal with. SPOILERS – Its Cortana. She’s gone batshit crazy and is now planning to police all of the known worlds with some crazy machines. Here is the problem, after 6-8 hours of gameplay, the story isn’t actually finished. The credits roll, the game is over and you’re left wondering why you spent a fortune for something that wasn’t even complete and drags a story so dull and lacklustre on for another instalment. I’ve played indie games for longer that were cheaper and far more enjoyable. It’s the perfect depiction of a cash cow and it’ll become another yearly game that bleeds money from its consumers because some mechanics are slightly different and the multiplayer maps have changed – aka Call of Duty.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my experience of shooting stuff on platforms, moving on and rinse and repeat a hundred times, but I’m a different kettle of fish. I’m not there for multiplayer, I’m here for lots of fun and I didn’t get that. We’ve established that the story was pulled from the inner rim of a public toilet but lets talk about everything else wrong with it.

  • Its recycled
  • Characters and Voice acting were rather dull (Sorry Nathan Fillion, you don’t sell it)
  • Weapons lack diversity, power and ammo. Seriously, how the fuck does it take a full magazine to kill one enemy!?
  • No diversity in enemies. They’re dropped in from the beginning and they never change so levels don’t ramp up in difficulty, they just add more
  • Repetitive zones and boss – Literally, its all the same
  • God awful boost mechanic which moves you about 3ft at a time

Its not a long list, sure. Yet its a big list when the only things I can draw from it that are actually good are the visual cut scenes,general graphics and the sound effects. Many people worry about triple A games and the reviewers who cover them for the big publications and so far, these big guys have talked up and marketed these titles as some of the best games ever. I simply cannot agree and with complaints and rumours of paid promotions and reviews by these publications, its not looking good.

I’m currently debating selling or returning this item because it was honestly a bleed on an already tight purse that didn’t give its customers what they really deserved – A game for the people, not for the bank account.

6/10 – Tune in next time to see the gradual decline of triple A games in record time

Halo

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – Anything is better than Unity – Xbox One Review!

It’s that time of year again when our wallets and purses are left crying in the corner of the room, vacant and hollow – AKA: The greatest time of year for gamers. Triple A titles are raining down on us and today we start this with the first entry, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

Follow in on from the resounding success of Unity *cough*, Ubisoft continue the annual outing with Syndicate. Based in London in the late 1800’s we join Jacob and Evie Frye. Assassin twins with no direct connection to those from previous iterations but raised by an assassin family. Their mission is to remove the tyranny of the Templars from London and finish the grand master Starrick for good…So like every other game. In the current time line, we are back with Shaun trying to find another precursor artefact. Just this time we watch them through some floating camera drone cut scene that does nothing to progress the story or add anything vaguely interesting. It seems as if Ubisoft needed some sort of validation about what they were doing so they can keep this train a’rollin’. So, here we have it. A linear story with the same formula, rinse and repeat. Its alright if you ignore the simple changes that have gone into creating it. Like CIA black ops files, there are thick black lines over names and places and then Ubisoft takes it, rolls a dice and there you have it, your characters and location done. We’ve seen as of late that they’re picking up on this and are trying to diversify gameplay to reinvigorate the fan base. We see with Chronicles: China that they’ve been struggling to maintain the hype that was once reserved for their epic Ezio cut scene trailers layered with staggering music by now switching the gameplay dramatically to a stealth based platform/side-scroller. However, Syndicate hasn’t done anything new. In all honesty, its actually removed one of the more popular mechanics which was the sailing (don’t lie, everyone loved sailing the seas and blowing shit up in their OP boats). Understandably boating in London in the late 1800’s isn’t that easy but they have worked on liberation of rival camps and regions with your trusty rope launcher. That’s fun. Liberating an entire borough on London of its Templar/Blighters gang ends with a big brawl between you, your crew, the Blighters/Templars and the areas boss, unless you’ve already chased them down and spread them across the pavement with your carriage. Roughly 10vs10, the fight can end very quickly if you’re quick to catch the leader prior to the fight. Constantly upgrading and crafting new weapons and tools means you’re almost always ahead of them in fire power, most notably gun wise. Assassins Creed Syndicate 3

As ever, combat within the AC universe has always been extremely fun and violent. Finishers and multi-kills are now even more brutal which also intelligently use the wider environment to pierce your enemy to the wall or make them into your newest desk accessory. Multi-kills aren’t very often and require a setup so they don’t become tiresome to watch or do and the general assassinations are fantastic. Kicking the shit out of people is just so fun but every action seems to be a some super human speed that is impossible to achieve with such weaponry. However, it seems that every police officer, Templar and gang member knows the main characters. So the super secret assassins of the secret order are known by everyone in London and their hideout is as subtle as a streaker at Sunday Mass. This winds me up to no end. You cannot walk though a neighbourhood without drawing the attention of 20 people, murdering them and moving on rapidly only to get caught out again a few blocks down the road. Any reason to beat the shit out of someone I guess. Yet we do not have a non-lethal way to progress. If an objective says not to kill a police officer, I have to kidnap them individually and knock them out away from all their friends one by one. I’m sure if you have the patience to do it meticulously, you’ll find some way of bullshitting it but if you’re like me, flooding a quarter of London in Templar blood was far more appealing. I tell you what is not appealing though, the shitty boss fight at the end which is a simple sequence motion that is repeated 3 or 4 times with slight variations with an illogical starting point for the character in relation to the cut scenes. Now here is the real kicker, its not too buggy. I had my fair share of bugs the crashed my game, killed me and made progress through zones very difficult. One of those is when you enter combat and all attacks to nothing. You run about trying to get hit but you can’t do anything to stop it. Then we have the various audio bugs that didn’t sync with the on screen animations and the invisible enemies that you’ve managed to morph with the wall. But, nothing game breaking and in regards to Unity, that’s a winner.

Assassins Creed Syndicate 4Visually the environment was stunning. Landmarks and set pieces looked amazing and a certain WW1 memory sequence created some even more amazing pieces and interactions. Now, I play on an Xbox One, the lower spec of the next gen consoles and I’d presume that my experience is far less than that of the PS4 in comparison. Character variation was good but the city is so big, you see many of the same people hanging around and you’ve probably killed the same guys over and over. My only gripe visually is fluidity. Anything the characters touch that isn’t their uniform is stiff, like cardboard and the hair isn’t even smooth, in fact you can visibly see the pixels that make the strands of Evie’s hair. Its nice to see a female character in the main character slot but other female characters that originated in the gangs that were heads of the groups felt as if they were trying too hard to appeal to that section and really impacted the reality of what women actually had to fight for. The aim to put female characters in the games are fantastic moves, especially in the Creed and the Templars but the general gang populace, it wasn’t that way and feels more like pandering to the extreme voices. We do get a cheeky mention of women’s rights in the bonus WW1 mission which was very amusing and actually addressed the situation in a historical aspect that doesn’t shun the past but brings light to the horrors of the past. By all means, I don’t believe the games to be 100% historically correct but it brushed the social issues of the time under the rug by acting like it never happened and created an idealistic image in a fairly distopian story that still shows children being worked to the bone by factory bosses.

I wouldn’t say I come into the AC universe to see the best voice actors in the industry create art but the script needs to match with facial movements and convey the correct emotions where necessary but often enough Evie’s mouth moved very little and emotion was lacking, but in all fairness, the stories and characters weren’t so engaging that you could immerse yourself into the world and feel for the characters. Some felt rather attached to the sibling disputes while I felt them more of a nuisance and that the relationship wasn’t explored enough to get a solid grasp of who these people are, its only towards the end of the game that we actually hear any mention of their parents real names and a history on them but still nothing on our protagonists apart from the fact that Jacob smashes shit up, Evie fixes it. It felt more like a big blockbuster action movie that priorities excitement and general fun over script, dialogue and character depth and if I’m honest, I’m okay with that. Its been fun and I will certainly be going back to experience some more of the extra missions, potentially more WW1 missions and generally beating the shit out of people. How is that not fun!?

Worth the pick up – 7/10

Let us know in the comments below of what you think of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and head over to our Youtube channel to watch all the shit I do over there!

Assassins Creed Syndicate

Fear the Walking Dead – Episode 1 Pilot Review

Fear The Walking DeadFear the Walking Dead was a big concern of mine. I cherish the Walking Dead series through many avenues but a spin-off sounded more like a desperate attempt to generate more and maintain the buzz around zombies in popular culture and milk the cow for a little longer. But honestly, I’m pleasantly surprised.

Entering into LA where the outbreak of the zombie virus is just beginning to take effect, we join our first group comprised of two teachers, Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and her two children Nick (Frank Dillane) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey). Here we begin with Nick in some run down church after doing enough meth to kill a horse (perhaps explaining why he looks so much like one). Almost instantly we are thrown into the zombie apocalypse with 3 dead and one psycho women chomping away at their faces. Fleeing from the area, presuming it was all some bad trip, Nick lands himself in hospital after playing Chicken with a sedan. Enter the awkward family love triangle. Typical step father (Travis) not being deemed as good by his new family and rejected by his original. From here on its about Travis understanding what is going on with Nick and throughout we begin to get bigger and bigger hints about the upcoming shit storm about to hit the world. It feels very real. Its not a superhero with the ability to punch through every wall in their way, its a normal person reacting to an extraordinary situation in the ordinary way. Its a very believable collection of reactions and that in itself is very refreshing towards the larger series.

So, its looking promising, but what about acting? In all fairness, I can honestly say I’ve never seen any of the actors before apart from Cliff Curtis and that was for a mildly entertaining ER show called Trauma, but there was a reason that didn’t survive more than 1 series. The acting in general was okay but my biggest bane is once again young actors. Often their scenes felt full of teen angst with lacklustre acting that belongs in crappy teen movies. Nick seems like a giant shit bag with a potentially complex narrative that will hopefully see him develop into an awesome character to follow later down the line.

Is it worth the watch? Hell yes. Even more so if you’re eagerly anticipating season 6 of its parent. The refreshing take on the zombie world has made Fear the Walking Dead a great entry into the lore and environment that separates itself from the activities of its comic book and Telltale variants.

8/10

Fear The Walking Dead 1

TV Review: True Detective – Season Two Episode Eight “Omega Station” SPOILER ALERT

A Truer Detective?

This week brought an end to the second season of Nic Pizzolatto’s highly addictive crime sage True Detective, a show that this year has been rife with criticism and finger-pointing with many arguing that aside from being wholly unsubstantial to its’ predecessor, it has also been an utter disaster with many being critical of its over-elaborate plot, cliched characters, and the ability of lead-writer Pizzolatto who has come under much scrutiny for this season’s attempt to diverge from the occult-ridden themes of the first and move into a noir-fueled epic, featuring a bundle of new characters and a range of different plot threads in order to make up its’ eight episode run. In terms of my own personal viewpoint on this season of True Detective, I am seemingly one of the few in believing that this series offered the opportunity for Pizzolatto to expand his horizons in regards to what can be achieved with such a format that True Detective holds, resulting in a season that yes, did have a wide range of flaws and weaknesses, but was also highly enjoyable with moments of sheer greatness which distinguished itself from anything else on TV at this particular moment of time. And I salute it.

In a rather ironic sort of way, “Omega Station”, the concluding episode of this years’ series, pretty much epitomised everything that True Detective stood for this time around, with the beautiful cinematography, including the wonderful overhead shots of California’s vast landscape, and heart-pounding scenes of tension, particularly in regards to Velcoro’s tragic last stand, being the highlights of the episode. These particular highlights were traits that although were absent slightly from the first three episodes of the series in which time seemed to go rather slowly with not much actually happening in regards to the overall plot, came to form the basis of the second half of the series in which the story finally managed to take a step forward, resulting in the last three episodes of the series being undoubtedly the best in a string of episodes that began with a drag yet concluded with an almighty band. And what a bang it was. If Frank and Ray’s raid on Agranov’s cash deal wasn’t thrilling enough, “Omega Station” left us with a range of memorable scenes, ranging from Velcoro’s redemption to Semyon’s hallucinatory last-breath, something of which was straight out of the Lynch-school for dramatic weirdness.

 In typical noir-esque fashion, the fate of our three heroes in this years’ season, as well as Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon, was rather depressing to say the least, with only Rachel McAdam’s Ana Bezzerides coming out alive, albeit on-the-run from the corrupt power structure that has overtaken our beloved heroes’ home, following the now-famous Game of Thrones policy that sometimes that bad guys have to win. In regards to out main band of heroes, it was obvious that Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro was indeed the most interesting of the bunch, with Farrell’s acting being on top-notch from the start, whilst Vince Vaughn must also take credit for embodying a role which so easily could have gone majorly wrong due to Vaughn’s capacity for cringe-worthy comedic acting, yet ended up being one of the better points of this years’ season resulting in a true sense of redemption for an actor so easily laughed at for his involvement in a string of rather questionable movies more recently. So, where did it all go wrong? In my own opinion, most of the backlash in regards to this years’ series simply came from people jumping on the True Detective-bashing bandwagon, with it seemingly being hip and cool to add to the growing list of haters for this years series, whilst many simply couldn’t deal with the fact that this years’ series was nothing at all like the first, something of which I was impressed by, with this season offering a truer and more down-to-earth take on the crime genre than the occult-ridden themes of the first.

But in all my fondness for the series, there were noticeable weaknesses and missteps, no more so than the ear-gratingly bad dialogue that our characters spoke at particular moments of the season, with our heroes’ hatred of E-Cigarettes being a personal favourite whilst Semyon’s attempt at being his own personal Gandhi with cringe-worthy anecdotes and “inspirational” speeches being draining at times, highlighting that perhaps all the critical praise Pizzolatto received first time around slightly going to his head. Also on the weaker side was the rather messy plot lines that although were rather hard to follow at times, also resulted in a sense of hollowness during the revelation of Caspere’s true murderer, which, in the end, was wholly anti-climatic and had only a slight relevance to the messy plot lines regarding corrupt police officers and business officials which Pizzolatto felt compelled to tell us about. But hey ho, I’d rather watch a series with flaws and weaknesses than anything else if that particular series has as much entertainment value as True Detective undoubtedly has. At the end of the day, Nic Pizzolatto’s crime sage may not have been for everyone this time around, but for me it was wholly refreshing and gave me a reason to wake up early on a Monday morning, and for those reasons alone I am going to miss it. I can only hope for Season Three this time next year.

Episode Score: 9/10

Overall Season Score: 8/10

TV Review: True Detective – Season Two Episode Seven “Black Maps and Motel Rooms” SPOILER ALERT

Death ‘Til Us Part

With the complex and sometimes baffling plot threads, questionable dialogue, and a desire to try and out-class its’ critically acclaimed predecessor this season, True Detective Mark II has had a wide range of detractors and naysayers, yet this weeks’ episode proved that when done correctly, True Detective has the fundamental genetic makeup to be a true great within the already brilliant HBO lineup whilst having the potential to match and rival anything on TV all across the globe. This weeks’ penultimate episode featured everything that made True Detective what it was last year with an increased level of threat and danger towards our main three heroes, solid acting from all involved, and twist and turns that solidified my anticipation for the concluding episode next week in which we are set to tie together the many loose ends that have been left by the complex nature of the overarching plot-line regarding the death of Ben Caspere. This week also handed us the first taste of death for one of our “True Detectives” with Taylor Kitsch’s Paul Woodrugh violently biting the dust at the hands of Ray Velcoro’s police chief. Lieutenant Burris, after narrowly escaping a confrontation with his blackmailers, all of whom seem to be privy to the events of last week’s drug infused orgy in the hillsides.

With Kitsch’s Woodrugh off  the payroll, one man who took the lead with some panache this week was Vince Vaughn, who although at times hasn’t had the best writing to work with, particularly in regards to his sometimes ear-grating dialogue, has proven to be one of this highlights of the season with this week’s episode allowing him to fully embrace the deceptive and seedy nature of Frank Semyon who once again escaped from bleeding out entirely and instead remained firmly on the ropes after destroying his two clubs after acknowledging the power struggle between him and Russian gangster, Osip Agranov. Following suit, Detectives Bezzerides and Velcoro also felt the heat this week by both turning to the other side of the law after a turn of events in which their one trusted source within the law department was found dead in their car with the blame firmly placed in the lap of Velcoro. With the walls falling in around our three remaining leads, next week’s conclusion of this year’s season of True Detective is one that shouldn’t be missed. See you then.

Overall Score: 9/10

TV Review: True Detective – Season Two Episode Six “Church In Ruins” SPOILER ALERT

Risky Business

Due to an enormous level of work and cinema constraints (Damn you Inside Out!), my rather punctual review of the week’s episode of True Detective has annoyingly come two days too late, but nevertheless, such a time period has allowed me to fully digest “Church In Ruins”, an episode in which events within the personal and overall plot-lines of our main heroes and heroines took a step up in an attempt to ready us for the roller-coaster ride that hopefully will be the series’ two concluding episodes. If one overall positive thing is to be taken away from this years’ series of True Detective, it is undeniably going to be Colin Farrell, who’s performance as troubled cop Ray Velcoro hit top-notch this week, particularly during the scene in which we relentlessly witness his descent back into drugs and drink in order to fully accept the notion of losing his son once and for all. On the opposite side of the law, Vince Vaughn continues to impress as Frank Semyon who continues to try and progress in his own investigation into the death of Ben Caspere whilst once again feeling the pressure from the depths of the criminal underworld with the return of the eerie, if rather out-of-place, sombrero wearing Mexican.

As for Detective Bezzerides, wow. The concluding scene in which we witness one of the weirdest undercover operations ever was not only difficult to watch in some places, but also brilliantly executed within all the madness and endless sexual intimacy that was presented on-screen. Kudos too to Bezzerides’ for her ninja skills in the inevitable, yet rather cool and badass knife-attack in which we finally see her expert knife-wielding tactics being but to good use. Oddly enough, with all the attention firmly on Velcoro and Bezzerides this week, Taylor Kitsch’s Paul Woodrugh decided to take a step back this week from the limelight and oddly enough, brought about a much better episode, with his own personal storyline definitely being the weakest of the trio’s throughout the series so far, yet his looming one-two of marriage and fatherhood may be the cause for his troubles to have finally stopped. This week’s episode of True Detective therefore definitely produced a high watermark for the series, propped up by Farrell’s magnificent performance and a scintillating final scene in which the bones of the overall storyline just got a little bit juicier.

Overall Score: 8/10