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

"Dragon Age: Origins" (PS3)

Posted : 8 months, 4 weeks ago on 20 June 2017 06:33 (A review of 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, after writing that comment that I could probably go into detail about my character's personal journey, I decided to do just that. :) Check my blog post [Link removed - login to see] for a detailed account of how I played and what I felt was going through my character's head. But spoiler warning: I will be talking about some things that happen near the end.

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"The Walking Dead: A New Frontier" (PC)

Posted : 9 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:35 (A review of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier)


A teenage Clementine and a new survivor named Javier are brought together when a new threat worse than the dead arises.

Telltale's original Walking Dead game is still one of their finest achievements, a true masterpiece of emotional and choice-based storytelling. I wasn't a big fan of The Walking Dead: Season Two, though, because of how perpetually downbeat and depressing its tone was. This third season has a very different tone to the first two: it's heavy on action and excitement. I have heard complaints that it relies more on action than emotion, but I'll gladly take that over wallowing in melancholy like Season Two did. Besides, it still doesn't hold back on the emotional gut-punches, especially at the end of episode one.

Telltale's graphics are definitely getting better; there's a noticeable improvement in the character models here.

Now, I'm going to give a minor spoiler alert here, because I just have to comment on the ending (or at least the one I got). To my surprise – and relief – it ends on a hopeful and relatively upbeat note. Some people might see that as a cop-out, but given the nature of this franchise, and especially after having just played Mass Effect 3, I for one needed a happy ending!

In conclusion, I'm happy to say, Telltale's The Walking Dead is back in my good books. :) A New Frontier is definitely not as good as Season One (nothing can top that), but much more to my taste than Season Two.

My rating: 85%

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"Mass Effect 3" (PC)

Posted : 9 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:30 (A review of Mass Effect 3)


The Reapers, built up since game one, have attacked the galaxy in full force, and Commander Shepard must work to unite all the surviving races against the enemy.

I love how the three Mass Effect games can be clearly distinguished from each other. This one is basically a war simulator, with a focus on managing your assets and making alliances to unite a fleet against the Reapers. Each time you open the galaxy map, you can see the Reapers present in more systems.

By now, my Shepard had fully become the hero the galaxy needed: a peacemaker who possessed the intellect to unite bitter rivals, but still had no sympathy for the Reapers. That doesn't mean he didn't feel the pressure, though, of so many people counting on him.

I have to admit, the main thing I wanted out of this game was for Shepard and Tali's relationship to work out. I desperately wanted to see them end up happy together – and to hear Shepard tell Tali he loved her, just once.

But now let's address the elephant in the room: the ending. I must fully echo the assessment you've most likely heard abundantly: I hate the ending with a fiery passion! I already wrote a two-thousand-word essay on my blog explaining why (see [Link removed - login to see]).

But aside from the ending, I was still very impressed with this game overall. It's every bit as fun, captivating and emotional as the other two. I just wish it had all ended differently.

My rating: 85%

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"Mass Effect 2" (PC)

Posted : 9 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:28 (A review of Mass Effect 2)


After being revived from death and having to join Cerberus (a pro-human organisation) without a choice, Commander Shepard must assemble a team, battle a new threat and make tough choices in order to save the galaxy once more.

Mass Effect 2, in my opinion, is a marked improvement on the first game, and the main reason for that is because the entire premise is focused on character development. The goal is to put a team together, so as you get to know the companions joining you on your adventure, you're guaranteed to grow attached to at least some of them. That's how it was with me, anyway. :) Except for Jack, I liked every single member of my squad, new and familiar faces alike, so by the time it got to the climax, I legitimately didn't want any of them to die.

By this point, I'd developed Shepard into a fully-fledged hero who tried his utmost to preserve life and make alliances if at all possible.

Not to mention, this is where I had Shepard find love. Male Shepard and Tali will always be my OTP, because once their romance gets going, every single scene they share together is nothing short of adorable.

To sum it up, this game engaged my emotions in a way that very few other pieces of entertainment have. This is my personal favourite of the Mass Effect trilogy, and potentially one of my new favourite games of all time.

My rating: 90%

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"Mass Effect" (PC)

Posted : 9 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:26 (A review of Mass Effect)


In 2183, Shepard, an elite human soldier, takes command of the starship Normandy and pursues a rogue Spectre agent named Saren. It transpires that Saren's goal is to bring back the Reapers, a highly advanced machine race believed to eradicate all organic life every fifty thousand years.

I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this game, because it has to set up an entire universe, so it throws a lot of information at you in rapid succession. I could probably spend this entire review just describing the world of Mass Effect in detail! :) But, to its credit, it never distracts you from the central goal: you're always aware that you're trying to stop Saren. That focus is what keeps you interested in exploring all these different worlds, and the final climax is just incredible.

Now, in terms of the main character… I mostly played Shepard as myself, but with a bit of a reserved and cynical edge, because his back-story involved the trauma of losing his entire squad in battle. I imagined Shepard as someone who knew the cost of war and knew when to be direct and get down to business, but he was far from heartless: he tried to help everyone whenever he could, and very rarely did he lose patience.

Overall, I didn't love this game, but it still held my interest and gained momentum as it progressed, and I was most definitely interested in playing the sequels.

My rating: 80%

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"Wonder Woman" (2017)

Posted : 9 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:18 (A review of Wonder Woman)


When pilot Steve Trevor crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, princess of the Amazons, leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

After three solid disappointments in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, I was willing to give Warner Bros. one more chance with this movie, but this was officially their last one. And… sadly, it didn't quite rise to the challenge, but it made a valiant effort.

The first half sucked, thanks to disjointed editing (mainly during the opening exposition) and some truly painful awkward dialogue. I also got really sick of the constant use of slow motion, and the film makes Diana look naïve for believing bedtime stories.

However, the movie finally perks up when Diana marches across a no man's land. That scene was simply glorious, because it's the first time in these movies that we've seen the characters acting like heroes! :) It's terrific! …But then the movie falters again in the third act, after an extremely predictable twist.

To sum it up, I have very mixed feelings on this movie, which is more than I can say for any of the three DCEU movies before it. But it just doesn't hold a candle to the 2009 animated Wonder Woman, and it still killed any interest I had in seeing the upcoming DCEU entries: Justice League or any of the rest. That's it, I am done.

My rating: 55%

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"Alien: Covenant" (2017)

Posted : 9 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:15 (A review of Alien: Covenant)


The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

Prometheus was a movie that I liked at first, but now, looking back, I still think it's visually stunning but I can't get past what complete morons the characters are. This sequel, while not devoid of stupid decisions on the characters' part, doesn't take their brainlessness to nearly the same extreme. But this one has its own problem: the characters have little to no personality at all. As a result, you don't care about any of them – they really are just there to be alien fodder – which drains the film of any real excitement.

Once again, the androids are the most interesting characters. I'd say you don't necessarily need to watch Prometheus to get into this one, because the opening scene tells you all you need to know about David and explains his actions later on.

But I think the worst scene by far is the nighttime fight scene in the field. I really thought Ridley Scott was above the shaky cam and sloppy editing bullshit that we see so often today!

And the ending… if you don't see it coming from a mile away, then you're clearly not even trying!

On the whole, though, I'd still say I liked it just a tad better than Prometheus. Both films are equally middle-of-the-road, but I'll take bland over insultingly stupid any day.

My rating: 55%

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"Ghost in the Shell" (2017)

Posted : 9 months, 2 weeks ago on 4 June 2017 03:12 (A review of 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.)

Even the villain is a letdown: gone is the fascinating Puppet Master, to be replaced by just another victim of the corrupt system.

I liked the original film, but it didn't wow me like it did so many other people. But even so, I found this movie to be an insult to its predecessor. It's dull, uninspired, and apparently owes more to RoboCop than it does to Ghost in the Shell.

My rating: 40%

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"Moby Dick" (Herman Melville)

Posted : 11 months, 3 weeks ago on 29 March 2017 11:27 (A review of Moby Dick (Usborne Classics Retold))


You all know the story: sailor Ishmael tells the story of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler the Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale that once crippled him.

I'm sure this goes without saying, but this is considered one of the all-time great literary classics. However, I confess, I'm not talking about the original text here, but a retelling from Usborne. I tried to read the original, but I'm afraid the old-fashioned writing style was incomprehensible to me; I'm not a scholar by any means.

So I don't know how much of the text the new writer, Henry Brook, kept intact, but he certainly conveyed the build-up to the voyage, the enormity of the ocean, the sense of isolation, the passage of time and, most importantly, Ahab's ever-growing obsession.

Some lines can be taken as great life lessons, like how no one should be too proud to obey a few orders because, "All of us are slaves to our stomachs, aren't we?"

Many people have noted the book's Shakespearean influences, and I'm no different. In particular, the idea of Ahab thinking he's invincible because of the apparently nonsensical prophecies is right out of Macbeth.

All in all, this Usborne Classics Retold version is the ideal way to experience the story for a casual reader like me. It's not perfect, but I can now see what made Moby Dick so influential, and it's still an engaging read.

My rating: 80%

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"Ghost in the Shell" (1995)

Posted : 11 months, 3 weeks ago on 28 March 2017 08:27 (A review of Ghost in the Shell)


Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg policewoman, and her partner Batou hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker known as the Puppet Master.

This movie, often considered one of the greatest anime films of all time, has been on my watchlist for a while now, and the new American remake gave me the perfect excuse to bump it up the list. :)

Much like Get Out (which I just reviewed), this is another one that I felt, while still fun to watch, was far more interesting for its themes and topics for conversation. In fact, I watched Chris Stuckmann's review after seeing the movie, and his insights and analyses are just superb, bringing up stuff I would never have even thought of.

As a casual viewer, my impression is that the narrative is solid, and of course the animation is consistently outstanding, but the sequence before the unidentified female cyborg shows up serves no apparent purpose and just grinds the movie to a complete halt.

One thing that threw me off was that it ended far sooner than I expected. It turned out the DVD cover had given a much longer run time than the film actually has: 125 minutes instead of 83.

In conclusion, I enjoyed this movie, but I don't quite think I'm ready to consider it one of my favourite animated films, at least not yet.

My rating: 80%

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