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All reviews - Movies (147) - TV Shows (2) - Books (4) - Games (26)

"The Last Guardian" (PS4)

Posted : 3 weeks, 2 days ago on 22 February 2018 12:15 (A review of The Last Guardian)

The tale of a young boy's friendship with a griffin-like creature named Trico who escaped captivity.

I find one of AngryJoe's catchphrases relevant here: "You done fucked it up!" In theory, an adventure game with a lovable animal sidekick sounds right up my street, but ultimately this game's presentation really annoyed me. But everyone else seems to adore it, so, like my Red Dead Redemption review, I think I'll have to exceed my 250-word limit on this one, because I'll have to work extra hard to explain myself.

For starters, I never got into the story. Right off the bat, it provides no context whatsoever, right down to the player character being a personality-free blank slate (that's one of my biggest pet peeves). I wasn't invested in the journey because I had no clue what kind of world the game was presenting, how normal it was for people to see fantastical creatures like Trico, or why we were going to the places that we were; I immediately wondered why we were going towards the ruins instead of away from them and off into the wide world. The minimal narration did nothing to help; in fact, it was often downright useless. I think I would have preferred if there'd been no dialogue at all, so it was all left open to interpretation.

It was probably because of said lack of investment that I very often found the puzzles inscrutable. Again, I had no idea what the ultimate goal was, or exactly what the character and game mechanics were capable of. I had to keep looking up a walkthrough, and my response, more often than not, was, "How was I supposed to know I could do that?!" Compare that to my all-time favourite game, Portal: that too is all about puzzles, but the components and mechanics are introduced gradually, allowing you to grow accustomed to each one in turn and recognise which ones to call on later. The Last Guardian, on the other hand, has no such learning curve, so I was repeatedly left clueless about where to go or what to do. No one else seems to have this issue, though; I've since watched Let's Plays where the player immediately figures out everything that stumped me. So, once again, I think it all stems from my finding the story so unfathomable. I never got into the game's mindset because it didn't do enough to invite me in.

I had some major issues with the controls, too. Not only were the directional controls very floaty, making it hard to steer the character at times, but I found the button functions to be counterintuitive. I've been told that it uses the Japanese button mapping, and I simply never got the hang of it. I'm used to the circle button (or, for Xbox players, B) being the universal command for cancel. In the menus that was the case, but in the game, I kept instinctively pressing circle to let go of ledges, plus I sometimes pressed X to jump and ended up letting go by accident. And don't even get me started on climbing Trico and especially trying to jump off him!

Speaking of which, I didn't even like Trico, partly because of my overwhelming frustration with the gameplay and partly because I simply never found him cute (I'm assuming it's a male). He just doesn't have very expressive eyes. I know the idea was to make him seem like a real animal, but he's clearly a work of fantasy, so why not go all the way? (Not to mention, I found it hard to take him seriously as an adorable companion when he made the same sound effects as the raptors from Jurassic Park!) That and his reaction time to given commands is often so slow that, half the time, I couldn't tell if he was flat-out refusing or if the AI was just being difficult. Sometimes, I could swear the game was glitched, that the AI was just straight-up broken. And yes, that's all I saw him as: just an often uncooperative AI.

But, with all that said, it wasn't an entirely negative experience; I did enjoy parts of it. The graphics really succeed in making the landscapes look stunning; in fact, this was the first game to convince me to use the PS4's share function to post a few screenshots. :-) One personal highlight of mine was the first hanging eye section, which brought out in full the vertigo I get from looking up at high things; whenever I had to look skywards while climbing, I felt distinctly sick. I also liked when you have to avoid the gaze of the rotating suits of armour. …Actually, I've just realised something: all my favourite sections are when you get separated from Trico! Maybe it's because those parts are usually self-explanatory.

In conclusion, I'm sorry to say, I'm not a fan of this game. I honestly thought I'd enjoy it, but it turned out to be one of the least fun gaming experiences I've ever had. For me, it was a vicious circle: my investment was killed because it wasn't intuitive, and it wasn't intuitive because it wasn't engaging.

My rating: 45%

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"Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series"(PC)

Posted : 3 months ago on 16 December 2017 11:34 (A review of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series)

The Guardians of the Galaxy discover an item of great power and must protect it from Hala the Accuser, who wants it for herself.

Now, I've made it no secret that I'm not a fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. When I first heard that Telltale would be adapting that title next, I was apprehensive at first, but hopeful at the same time, given Telltale's track record. And I'm happy to report that, once again, they struck gold. :)

To put it simply, this game counters every issue I have with the movies. For starters, I like these versions of the characters far better than their film counterparts – especially Mantis, the most adorable ball of adorable ever! :) And not only is it funny, but it waits until you're already in the carefree comedic mindset before introducing the heavy drama involving Peter's mother, thus making it truly gut-wrenching. See, that's how it should have been done!

The graphics may be Telltale's best yet. The characters look fully three-dimensional, and you can even see the detail on Drax's skin.

Still, there are some minor things that really bug me. Not to spoil anything, but the team disbands at the end of episode four, and the reason I got for Gamora leaving is incredibly flimsy. And the final episode, though still satisfying, is far from Telltale's strongest finale.

But, that aside, I still consider this one of my top Telltale favourites simply because it delivers everything I felt the movies lacked.

My rating: 95%

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"Until Dawn" (PS4)

Posted : 6 months, 3 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:30 (A review of Until Dawn)


A group of teenagers spend the weekend in a ski lodge on the anniversary of their friends' disappearance, unaware that they are not alone.

I went in expecting an interactive slasher flick, as that's what the game had been marketed as, and, since I'd heard the player's choices played a major part in it, I was looking forward to being able to craft a horror story where the characters were actually smart. :) But it turned out to be something much more intriguing than that. I loved finding clues and piecing together the mystery of what the characters were up against, and it proved to be quite a fascinating back-story. And do I even need to say I didn't see the major plot twist coming?

As with any good horror title, the atmosphere is just perfect, from the outdoor snowscapes to the dark corridors and caves.

It's hard to choose my favourite character, but I really liked the developing romance between Chris and Ashley; I was rooting for that to work out. But I can tell you this: the only character I flat-out disliked was Emily. God, I hated her!

The only thing that keeps me from loving this game is that a lot of the dialogue doesn't flow naturally; I doubt even conversations in real life would be this scatterbrained, no matter how panicked people were.

But aside from that, this is a grade-A horror story, and a masterful showcase of choice- and consequence-based gameplay.

My rating: 80%

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"Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception" (PS3)

Posted : 6 months, 3 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:27 (A review of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception)


Nathan Drake embarks on a quest in search of the Atlantis of the Sands while battling an ancient sinister organisation.

Each of the Uncharted games stands out for different reasons. The first one had the best characters, the second one had the best cinematics, and this one has the best overall story. The plot always kept me interested. The entire Rameses section turned out to be one big cul de sac, but for the most part, every scene flowed together quite naturally. Not to mention, we get some insight into Nate's past.

I love how the desert section was handled! You feel like you're right there in Nate's shoes.

One of my favourite aspects was reading into Nate and Elena's relationship. I've absolutely shipped those two since Uncharted 1, and was overjoyed to know that they were married between games – even if they are separated and estranged by this point. I never stopped hoping they'd work it out, though; they're just too perfect together.

Finally, this game incorporates stealth more than either of its two predecessors. Now, that's more my playing style: avoiding combat rather than engaging in it! :) Unfortunately, way too often, I couldn't see any feasible way to get through an entire area stealthily, and the series' usual stress of gun combat would start all over again.

In conclusion, I'm not sure how many will agree with me on this, but this might actually be my favourite of the series so far.

My rating: 85%

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"Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" (PS3)

Posted : 6 months, 3 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:24 (A review of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves)


Nathan Drake goes on a quest for Marco Polo's lost fleet, and must rely on those closest to him in order to find the Cintamani Stone.

This sequel is essentially more of the same, so it doesn't feel quite as fresh this time, but some elements are done better. The already impressive graphics, for example, have taken a further step up, the final boss fight is much more enjoyable, and the gameplay has some astounding new innovations.

It begins with one of the greatest opening sequences I've ever seen in a game: an injured Nate has to escape from a train dangling over a cliff by climbing up the outside of the carriages. And that's where this game really shines: there are some amazingly dynamic gameplay sections that make you feel as if you're playing a massive blockbuster action scene.

Just like with the first game, its only letdown, I felt, was the shooting sections. I always dreaded the next one because they each made for a highly stressful time, and the sheer amount of them was just plain draining. The only exception, I found, was using a turret or mounted gun, because having one fixed viewpoint made things much simpler somehow. The rest of the time, because of the third-person view, I found it nigh impossible to move and shoot at the same time.

Overall, I'd say it's about equally as good as the first game: it offers some improvements, but the first one felt unique and unprecedented.

My rating: 80%

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"Uncharted: Drake

Posted : 6 months, 3 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:20 (A review of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune)


Treasure hunter Nathan Drake embarks on the adventure of his life searching for the legendary treasure of El Dorado while fighting a group of mercenaries.

This is basically a classic treasure hunt adventure story, but one with great characters. Every single character is instantly appealing and joyous to have an adventure with.

Also, knowing that this game came fairly early in the PS3's life cycle makes the graphics that much more impressive; they gave a supreme demonstration of what the console was capable of.

In terms of gameplay, I loved exploring the environments and solving puzzles. There was one part where, no joke, I actually started singing "I am so smart" like Homer Simpson! :) My least favourite aspect was always the gunfights, because I'm just not that kind of gamer; I simply don't have fun shooting and being shot at incessantly – plus I'm a terrible shot.

Elena is made into a damsel in distress towards the end, and I'd be lying if I said that didn't bother me, but then, I really did want to rescue her because I genuinely liked her as a character.

I thoroughly enjoyed this game – or at least, all the parts that didn't involve using guns. I love the graphics, I love the story, I love the sense of adventure, but above all, of course, I love the characters.

My rating: 80%

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"Transformers: War for Cybertron" (PS3)

Posted : 6 months, 3 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:17 (A review of Transformers: War for Cybertron)


The heroic Autobots and tyrannical Decepticons wage war for control of the planet Cybertron.

I was interested to see this game's take on the events leading up to the Transformers' escape from Cybertron – a part of the story I hadn't seen explored before. The game is divided into two campaigns, with the Decepticons' story taking place in the first five chapters and the Autobots' story in the second five. You have the option to play either one; I chose to play the story chronologically. Both sides offer some highly enjoyable story-based moments. We find out what Starscream started out as and why Megatron keeps him around, and we get to see Optimus become the new Prime and see the makings of the hero we all know and love.

You choose from one of three characters to play each mission. At first, I'd usually choose the one I was unfamiliar with… and then end up forgetting that character's name! :)

The gameplay itself severely dampened things for me, though. I'm just not a fan of shooters, and this game was no exception. At least ninety percent of the time, you're just running around and shooting enemies – there's very little variety – which made for an exceedingly monotonous experience. The most fun I had was during the boss fights at the end of each campaign, because at least they involved some strategy.

Thus, I'd be more inclined to watch this game in future rather than play it.

My rating: 60%

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"The Land Unknown" (1957)

Posted : 6 months, 3 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:11 (A review of The Land Unknown)


A science team crash-lands in a deep crater in Antarctica, where they find a prehistoric world.

I'll be honest: the main reason I watched this was because I'd found out it was where the dinosaur roar sound effect from Duel came from. As a movie, it was pretty much what I expected: a fairly typical 50s monster movie with low-budget visual effects. I went in expecting to laugh at the effects and at least find the adventure interesting.

Also, after having just watched Creature from the Black Lagoon (and don't get me wrong: that's a good movie), it was refreshing to see a movie that at least got some science right!

What stuck out for me, though, was one monumentally stupid decision on the characters' part. It involves spoilers, though, so if you're concerned about that, stop reading now. They find another survivor, who offers to help them escape only if they leave Maggie (the only woman on the team) with him, but the men obstinately refuse to let her go. For me, that made the second half a real chore to sit through; the entire mess that follows could have been avoided if they'd simply offered him the chance to leave with them! Seriously, use your brains, people!

My rating: 45%

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"Atomic Blonde" (2017)

Posted : 6 months, 3 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:06 (A review of Atomic Blonde)


Lorraine Broughton, an undercover MI6 agent, is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

I suspected, based on the premise, that this movie would be political in nature and I'd have trouble understanding it. Well, I was right, but not quite for the reasons I thought. My main issue was the plotting. Lorraine's first couple of destinations around Berlin make sense: she's following leads concerning the list. But the scene where she crosses the border lost me: I was confused about what purpose that served. And from there, my confusion just kept on snowballing, until eventually I gave up altogether trying to make sense of it. I wasn't even surprised by the twist ending, because at that point I just didn't care anymore.

Plus, I was often distracted by Charlize Theron's accent.

However, the highlight is an outstanding action sequence at the end of the second act. It's done all in one long take, and you can actually see the characters growing steadily more bloodied and exhausted; you feel the adrenaline and the frenzy in full. It's stunning.

Aside from that, I found this movie to be a boring and incoherent mess.

My rating: 50%

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"47 Metres Down" (2017)

Posted : 6 months, 3 weeks ago on 24 August 2017 06:03 (A review of 47 Meters Down)


Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean, and must fight to survive with less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby.

We seem to be getting a bit of an influx of mainstream shark movies lately! :) Unfortunately, this one pales in comparison to last year's The Shallows. It follows the same principle of trying to work as much tension as possible out of a simple situation, and some of the ideas and concepts are pretty well worked out.

But it's all ruined by one simple problem: the characters are boring, which kills our investment in their predicament. The impression I got from the performances was that the cast and crew were just on holiday and passively making a movie on the side.

That and I found the constant overuse of close-ups to be incredibly distracting; it's kind of hard to establish atmosphere when the camera is almost always shoved right in the actors' faces.

In the end, this is just another mediocre thriller.

My rating: 50%

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