Riddick Review

I never did believe that Pitch Black was the best movie ever, and ironically, even though the Chronicles of Riddick was seen as a flop in the eyes of Universal, it to this day remains one of my all time favorite movies; in fact, it was this particular film that caused me to admire Vin Diesel professionally as an actor and inevitably have an avid fascination with every film he has been in since.

The one thing I have always appreciated about Riddick in general, is that he is the traditional anti-hero, much like Mad Max. Although Riddick is essentially an American creation (and I do not mean to be negative) but Americans always love their heroes – they are always patriotic and willing to lay down their lives to save the day for no reason at all other than the fact they simply can. Riddick will do this of course – but he wants something in return, which is the true definition of an anti-hero.

For anyone who has been a massive fan of the franchise thus far, then like me you may very well have been waiting with bated breath for the better part of a year for the film to finally be released. Riddick is more like the original Pitch Black, and for those like me who preferred Chronicles, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that you wouldn’t like this film – after all, there is still plenty of bad-ass Riddick action going on for any fan of the franchise to enjoy.

Right from the very beginning, the film captures the attention of its audience as Mr. Diesel efficaciously commands the screen as usual with his powerful presence. Originally starting with Riddick being marooned on an unknown world, Riddick not long afterwards remembers how it was that he managed to find himself on such a hell hole.

Riddick, who is tired of running and tired of being the lead commanding officer of the Necromonger horde asks Vaako (Karl Urban) for assistance in finding his home planet of Furya. Instead, Riddick finds himself in the middle of a violent coup for power, inevitably resulting in him being left for dead after the betrayal he didn’t see coming. (Instead of writing a small portion of information about the movie here, I have placed it at the end of the article. I would not call this a spoiler per se, but some people reading this may find the information unnecessary. If you wish to know, proceed to the end of the article).

For the first half an hour of the film, Riddick adjusts to his new surroundings, which includes striking up a partnership with an alien dingo who eventually becomes his companion. Fans of Chronicles may remember Riddick befriending a creature on the planet Crematoria, and this is no different. Perhaps this was deliberately orchestrated to provide some humanity to Riddick’s character, for in previous films Riddick was often fighting alongside Jack and other comrades he met along the way.

Unable to stay forever on the planet, Riddick eventually finds a bounty hunter station and activates the distress beacon which brings two mercenary shuttles down atop of his head. One group is led by the violently deranged Santana (Jordi Molla), whilst the other is commanded by Boss Johns (Matt Nable), and those familiar with Pitch Black may recognise the familial similarity in the name, providing a clue as to why he is seeking Riddick out.

Upon the mercenaries arrival, Riddick’s role overtime becomes a little shorter, appearing every so often during scenes as the film begins to focus primarily on the mercenaries. This can seem a little strange; naming the film ‘Riddick’, and yet the lead character is absent from at least a third of the film, if not more. This may have something to do with the fact that Mr. Diesel seems to be quite the busy actor at the moment, with a sequel to Fast and the Furious franchise in the works and another XXX on the horizon. Perhaps on occasion Mr. Diesel was needed elsewhere to ensure that his other perspective films were released on schedule?

This however does allow the mercenaries to be explored and their opinions of Riddick to be known. This gives the audience the opportunity to decide whether they believe Riddick is the scary monster all of the mercenaries visualise him to be, morals being one of the key principle driving forces of the film.

However, the question of whether Riddick is the real bad guy he is made out to be is overshadowed by the extraterrestrial scorpions that inhabit the planet, who seem to have a fondness for mammals – or more aptly, the meat that mammals have on their bones, and the eventual confrontation between these creatures and everyone else is quite an impressive showdown.

An unnecessary feature of the movie though might very well be that every woman in the film with the exception of one shows off their breasts at one stage or another. Dahl (Katee Sackhoff) additionally is a character that seems to be developed in an incredibly peculiar way. Being very verbose about her sexuality, it is awful strange that Riddick shoots her a few sexual references over the course of the movie, visualising a potential want to have a romantic relationship with her, and her occasional one-liners about this may cause the viewer to wonder whether or not writer David Twohy knows the definition between a lesbian and a heterosexual.

Again, Riddick is more like Pitch Black, but this in no way means that it is not entertaining. The special effects are fantastic, and the tenseness of the film is very well articulated. The addition of more blood for the viewer’s pleasure is enough to empower the action scenes with extra bite, and the occasional profanity allows more realism to be incorporated into the scenes, both of which were absent from Chronicles.

Any fan of the Riddick franchise should feel quite at home with this particular film, and fans of science fiction should additionally have a fair amount of fun with this new addition to the series. The film is left wide open at the end for a sequel, and maybe if we are lucky Universal will put some time and effort (and money) into a possible fourth edition. Fingers crossed!

All in all, I give Riddick a 4 out of 5.

 

INFO FROM MIDDLE OF DOCUMENT: For those who are fans of Karl Urban’s work (and I am one of them) you may be disappointed to learn that Mr. Urban only appears in one scene at the beginning of the feature. Upon Riddick been cast down upon the planet, all of the Necromonger’s leave and you never see them again. I really liked the Necromonger’s as the enemy in Chronicles and maybe we will have the opportunity to see them again if a sequel is promulgated.

How important are looks in everyday life?

How much do looks play in everyday life?

On my blog I occasionally ask rhetorical questions such as this, and I often do enjoy some of the responses that come from them.

I ask because, well, I guess it is kind of difficult to explain without being an open book.

I am unsure if I have ever admitted to this on the blog I am writing in now, and if not, I guess this is as good a time as any; my name is Derek, and I have lived with depression since I was 15.

Why do I admit to this you may ask? Well, I doubt my mental state was at all helped by a number of my high school peers who seemed to make it their duty to ensure that my years spent undertaking secondary education would be incredibly gruesome, and being continuously abused, physically as well as mentally left a number of scars, and not just the visible ones. Being continuously told to go kill myself only furthered my suicidal behavior; being told how much I was hated only made me hate myself even more; and being told how hideous I was only caused me to loathe the way I look more than I already did.

I am naturally one of those people who has never really been truly satisfied with my looks, but I neither have the intention (or the money) to go under the knife to do anything about that. Although I was once a child model, I believe my looks began to wane at an early age, and if you direct your attention stage right, I am sure you can make your own observation on how hideous I generally am.

All of this information leads directly back to the question I asked at the beginning of this post.

Now, before I continue, I will say this; even though I was once in a five year relationship with a woman, what I know about women I could probably write on a post-it note, and what I don’t know about women could fill a series of novels that could span for generations. I am writing this because I have a theory; I believe that women care more about looks than men do.

I do not mean any offense by that, and if I have caused it, I do apologise but please, allow me to explain. Many women talk about how they care about feelings, and this argument has been made during my university classes when women are discussing the lack of realism generated by certain female characters in literature, complaining that the author did not place another emphasis on emotions experienced by these fictional women.

However, I would argue, how often do you see a beautiful woman going out with a man who is not good looking?

As an example; there was a woman I knew during my undergraduate university course, who said online and off that she was ‘not shallow’, and thus did not care how a man looked like. She said all she cared about were feelings. Now, she told me once that she liked me – I believe this was a general observation of my character. When I asked her out, she was absolutely horrified that I had come onto her and made it very clear that she did not wish to date me – why not; simple – I wasn’t good looking enough. This, dear reader, was her reason for not going out with me.

This happened a year ago, so I am very much over such an occurrence. Instead, I am attracted to someone else now, and again, this pertains to my original question.

In July I asked this woman out, she told me she was already in a relationship, and I told her I would respect her answer and have since then left her alone. Unfortunately for me she happens to be in one of my university classes and I bump into her once a week, and although I am smart (that’s debatable) enough to realise that nothing is going to happen, and on every other day I barely ever think about her, it isn’t exactly easy for me to inevitably bump into a woman that I am attracted to and have this rather awkward silence hanging over us.

You see, I didn’t exactly ask this woman out in the conventional sense – I wrote her a poem, where I wrote about how beautiful she was; how fascinating I found her to be, and how I would happily die a million deaths to buy her a coffee, among a couple of other things that may be a little too embarrassing to write here. I didn’t sign my name or anything; I concluded the piece anonymously, and said that if she wanted to know the ‘writer of this here verse’ that if she were to wait around when lunch time arrived, that I would make myself apparent.
So, she waited around; she gave me her answer; and thus, awkward moment.

Now, one of the reasons I became attracted to this woman was, well, I guess her aurora; she just naturally stood out (you know, when everyone else ceases to exist and only this one person is visible in a crowd of several dozen other people), and another would be the fact she did not seem to be very popular. She never sat with the ‘cool crowd’ and during lunch breaks I noticed she only ever hung out with one other woman, and no one else.

These were two of the reasons I was attracted to her; I am not to sure these reasons apply so much now though. Yes, I am still attracted to her, I can’t help it (and unfortunately for me, being in the same class as her has helped me realise she isn’t just beautiful, but incredibly intelligent and has a healthy sense of humor, so, damn, damn, damn!) but she seems to have deliberately changed her attitude or something to conform to the societies in the classroom. I did mention that she seemed to not hang out with the ‘cool crowd’, and originally in class she didn’t either.

You see, there is this group of about three guys and three women who are ‘the cool kids’, a term once used by a young woman who said these three words before ditching her own friends to go sit with them. In class it generally seems that everyone is lining up to kiss their arse, be their next best friends, and if that is not enough, I know for a fact that at least one of the guys has dated one of the women, if not two of them judging by the conversations I have overheard him having with some of his other friends.

Now though, the woman I am attracted to; she sits with this crowd; and hangs out with them after class.

I will note that I am in no way this woman’s keeper, and she has every right to do whatever she wishes and spend time with whoever she wants. Just because I will never be associated with the ‘cool crowd’ in no way means that she should not be.

But this again goes back to the question regrading looks, but this is not the physical sense of the word, as much as it is the visual of one’s character. This certain young woman (I do know her name FYI, I am just refusing to use it in this post as to not further embarrass myself!) has obviously decided that she would rather look ‘cool’ than look like a loner (like me!) and although I respect her decision, it certainly means that if she were to break up with her current partner, that I have absolutely no chance of ever being with her since those associated with the popular crowd never lower themselves to interact with those beneath them.

Continuing on with the notion of if she were to break up with her current partner, would she remember that I am attracted to her and alert me to the fact that her relationship status has changed when she is ready to begin dating again? Or will she not give a damn and go out with either someone associated with the crowd she now associates herself with, or with someone more attractive than I am?

I realise it is not healthy to like someone who is unattainable. However, I find it difficult to move on when I am going to keep bumping into this woman until the start of November. Once this month comes around the chance I will see her again is minimal, and then I will probably be able to resume my life as usual. Until then, I am cursed to see this woman.

So again, I ask the question, how important are looks in everyday life?

I don’t necessarily need any answers, but anyone who wishes to contribute to this post, feel welcome to write your thoughts into the comments section below.

Thank you for reading dear reader and I hope you have a pleasant day.

If you are broke, do you have the right to ask someone out on a date?

In the past on this blog I have asked two questions regarding relationships, including ‘do guys date women who remind them of their mothers’ after reading an article on the subject and feeling a little queasy at the thought, to asking ‘do women date guys who wear glasses’, which was more of a rhetorical question, but I was glad for the feedback generated by it.

Today I am asking another question, and as suggested by the title, it is as follows: if you are broke, or are not economically comfortable, do you have the right to ask someone out?

Over the course of this post I am going to be talking about a man asking a woman out, however, the same argument can be made for anyone of any gender in any relationship.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m broke, don’t get me wrong. Of course, I wouldn’t openly admit to such an embarrassing notion even if I was. At the moment I have the money to sustain myself and acquire the necessities (food, etc) and can acquire entertainment on an occasional basis, however, if I were in a relationship, I have no evidential proof of how long I would be able to afford to go out with a woman before I inevitably ran out of money to date her, let alone support my own existence.

I think it is an obvious connotation, that if a guy asks a woman out, then he is expected to pay for, well, a lot, and I will not argue against this assumption. If you are asking someone out, you are asking for their time and their commitment and so you should fork out the money to enjoy their company. You are asking them to accompany you to places and to spend time with your friends. If you were not a part of their life they would be spending their time doing other things, and so, if you ask me, the man should put up most, if not all the money for the time that he is lucky to be spending with a living, breathing human being that they like.

However, if you do not have the money to accommodate for this, then I am unsure whether the man has the right to even ask the woman that he fancies out. I believe it would be plain rude for a man to ask for a woman to spend her time with him, only to say after a decent night’s meal at a fancy restaurant ‘oh, I don’t think I can entirely afford this, do you mind paying for half the bill?’
A woman may have agreed to go out with the man, but I cannot imagine her ever agreeing to pay for the meal that the man wanted her to have with him, nor would I even want her to. Maybe I’m strange, but I feel a man would have quite the nerve to ever do that to a woman. I’m not saying a woman could not afford it, not at all; I’m saying that she probaly would not have attended this restaurant if the man had not asked her there, so why ask this certain lady to put her hard earned cash into the equation when it was the man who asked her to be there in the first place?

Adjunctively, what if a woman left her former partner to have a relationship with a man who had recently captivated her attention, only to discover that he was not as economically stable as the partner she recently left? Would she not feel horribly cheated?

The reason I am asking these questions right now is as follows – if a man does not believe he can afford to take a woman out for the period of longevity that he would like the relationship to last, should he simply not bother to ask a woman out at all?
This may seem like an easy decision to make when written on paper, or in this case, a blog, but I would argue against that therom.

I believe that as soon as we humans in general agree to have a romantic relationship with another person, that we give up the ignorance we were originally born with, that ‘ignorance’ being our unknowing of how it feels to be in love. The moment we welcome someone into our heart, I believe that we become accustomed to that feeling, and thus, cannot live without it. I’m not saying that dating is like oxygen, and is thus a mandatory part of life, but I am arguing that if that first person we date were to leave us, it leaves a hole, and every time anyone leaves from that moment on, the hole returns.
Before dating we had no idea of the pain felt when someone leaves. We also had no idea of the loneliness felt when we do not have a paramour in our lives. True, if a person has friends and family they are not essentially ‘alone’ per se, but there is a difference between the hole left from not having family, and the hole left from not having a love interest.

I can’t really believe I am going to admit to this (however I will because it will strengthen my argument), but I myself have not been in a relationship for over a couple of years, and I can assure you dear reader if you do not already know, that what I noted in the previous paragraph is true, at least for me. Although I have friends and family, they cannot fill the hole that is now meant for a paramour, and it does become quite brutal every so often when I realise how many a night is the same – dinner for one, dessert for one, wine for twelve (maybe I’m kidding about the wine, or am I?).
It would just be nice to have someone in my life that I could love because, well, isn’t it nice to love someone and to be loved back? I’m sure there is not a single person out there who will disagree.

Now, unless I’m destined to spend the rest of my existence alone, and I would hate for that to come to fruition, I would like to think there is still hope for me, which comes all the way back to my original question – do I have the right to ask a woman I like out if I cannot fathom I will be able to always afford the ability to take her out?
Of course, there is more to dating than going to fancy restaurants, clubs and theaters, and I am sure continuously having a woman over at my place for dinner, or cooking at hers; or making every date night a movie night, will inevitably become quite boring.
Besides, if you like someone, there is the expectation that one must shower them with gifts every so often. The argument ‘I will always love you’ in my opinion has not been enough for some time, and unless you can show a woman your affection through jewellery, clothes and other like accessories, I do not think that the four letter word in the three word sentence will always remain believable.

On this note, image is just as important as affection, which is often where economics comes into this, for money does pertain to a person’s lifestyle. Now, I am not an expert on women (who is?), but I think it is a fact (and if it’s not then I beg the forgiveness of every woman on the planet) that women like men who are: good looking, older than they are, mature, confident, economically comfortable and suitable to the lifestyle the woman enjoys, have their own place of accommodation (basically, they are not a kipper and still sleep over at mum’s house when they are nearly thirty years of age), own a car of their own (and can drive it, although I think ownership usually implies driving capability), are in a professional occupation, and on top of that, have the ability to keep a job for a period of longevity.

Although I can admit to having some of these qualities, I would be lying if I did not openly admit that all of these do not necessarily describe the man I am today. Again, this leads to the question, do I have the right to ask a woman out if I am not economically stable?

Additionally, does a man have the right to ask a woman out if he is still in is twenties and lives with his parents?
Does a man have the right to ask a woman out if he does not own a car?
Does a man have the right to ask a woman out if he is not incredibly popular and really good looking?

I’m not saying those three above questions pertain to me, but they do fall into the same category as the primary question that I had begun this post with. I think I am getting ahead of myself here, but I do believe all of these questions can be asked.

Now, perhaps these ideologies are simply those generated by a mind that is lacking confidence in the area of dating? Maybe so, but the fact remains the same that money is unequivocally an important factor in a relationship. According to research statistics recovered online, it costs between 2-4 thousand dollars a year to maintain a stereotypical relationship, and if one does not believe they can afford this kind of money, should he attempt to orchestrate a relationship with a woman in the first place?

I realise I keep asking the same question time and time again, and that will be the last time I do so.
This here is just my opinion. Any other opinions on the subject will be very welcome in the comments section below.

Thank you for reading, and I bid all of you a good day.

An Unforgotten Heroine Fights to Reclaim Her Memories in REMEMBER ME

Title: Remember Meremember_me_capcom_game_-_cover_art1
Developer:
DONTNOD
Distributor:
CAPCOM
Platforms:
PC/PS3/XBOX360

Pros:
-Beautifully detailed environments
and graphics
-Uniquely interesting, psychologically
powerful and captivating storyline
-Personally customisable upgrades
-Fight scenes are fun
-Entertaining puzzles
-Nice, digitally inspired musical score

Cons:
-Camera angels can occasionally
be irritable
-Controls take a while to learn
-Limited availability to exploration
-Vast quantity of hints take away
from one’s general enjoyment

Rating (out of 10): 8.5

Summary: A character oriented, powerfully gripping sci-fi oriented title with a terrific, lead female protagonist who pushes the narrative forward until the very end.

This particular review is based upon my experience with the XBOX360 version.

‘My name is Nilin, and this time, you will remember me.’

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Female protagonists; in movies they are a dime a dozen. It isn’t everyday a warrior woman comes blasting through the doors, but in games, every so often a woman of unfathomable grace comes exploding through the screen with unparalleled charisma, potential and power. Remember Me’s ‘Nilin’ is certainly soon to join the ranks of these prior heroines. Unlike the stereotypical dragon slayer, Nilin exhibits emotions. She does not like the idea of innocents being caught between her and her target; she feels empathy towards others, and she is concerned whether her actions are helping those around her or if she is simply another antagonist. This alone makes her an incredibly well rounded character that you immediately begin to enjoy playing as. Of course, the fact she can take on a large group of fighters all at once and get out reasonably uninjured and is additionally a gorgeous minx with the body of an hour glass does not hurt her alluring appeal either.

I apologise if I come off sounding like a sex crazed loon – that is not my intent. So often in games, female characters are objectified as sex symbols. Take Angie from Psychotoxic for instance – she spends the game running around flaunting her thong. This decision by the developers takes away from the experience when portraying a certain character. In the games industry, often female characters are visualised as being unable to acquire the same large audiences as games where males play the lead role. Epic Games for instance back in March admitted that they would never have the leading protagonist in any Gears of War game be a heroine. Adjunctively, according to online sources, it has been speculated that Dontnod Entertainment had some difficulty attempting to acquire a distributor for Remember Me as it was doubted that the game could acquire such a mass audience, with the review on Gamespot going so far as to say that Nilin was focused upon too much, which prevented the other characters from coming to life. Many of these characters are men, and in this particular title the men take the back seat whilst Nilin drives the narrative forward.

After each Episode (level), Nilin reminisces over what has happened thus far and thinks about the ramifications of her choices and the kind of person that she is. In most games the player shoots first and never contemplates the consequences of their decisions or the loss of their humanity from taking another life, which is a major difference about Nilin; she does. This vulnerability of hers is perfect at showing her humanity. True, she is a hero and there is the expectation that she is to be big and strong, but she also comes off as the kind of young women you could totally be BFF’s with. This assists with her becoming such a likable and very understandable character, for the player does not just see her physical appearance, but her emotional interior as well, and it is very enjoyable to watch such a real character coming to life before one’s eyes.

Nilin herself, although as previously mentioned is physically beautiful, her physicality is not what is focused upon. Many other games seem quite  misogynistic when developing women as pure sex objects, whereas Nilin is fully clothed. Sure, her cleavage is partially visible, but unlike in many games where a woman’s breasts stick out from her chest like two cannons on a pirate’s ship, in Remember Me, the lead female protagonist is not exactly flat chested, but her lady parts are not the focus of what draws the gamer to admire her so – it is her character as a woman; her emotion; her charisma; her attitude. The actress who voices Nilin, Kezia Burrows, does a fabulous job at bringing the character to life, but her mannerisms also assist with this. When she is splashed with water, Nilin sighs and grunts, throwing the water off her body and wiping it from her face. She shields her eyes from fire and she looks behind her when running from enemies as to know exactly where they are. She gasps and sighs in all the right places and when she is anxious she reassures herself ; ‘okay, get up Nilin! You can do this!’ These small aspects make her so much more human, and although I will admit that games are simply designed to entertain, sometimes sheer action is not enough to do just that. Sometimes a person can be as entertaining as an action scene, and Nilin herself is a real pleasure to watch and control throughout the entire experience.

Okay, first things first; Remember Me is powered by the Unreal Engine. I don’t know about others, but I on occasion cringe when this is revealed to me. Either, the graphics are going to be really good (Mass Effect, Bioshock) or they’re not (Gears of War (1), Singularity). Luckily, Remember Me is the former, rather than the latter. The cinematics often move from Nilin walking into a new environment to broadly showing the entire region in all of its futuristic appeal. Towering skyscrapers, large flying ships and intricate holographic advertisements are just some of the marvelously detailed creations the player will bear witness to, each of which is beautifully conceived, showing the impeccable vision that is Neo Paris 2084 in all of its glory.

Remember-Me-02

The characters too are well detailed, especially their clothes, which look amazing upon each of the individuals, whether they have a pivotal role to play or are simply civilians you happen to walk by. The robots too that live amongst the humans are additionally well designed to such an extent you can see the detail in each and every one of their parts, from their wires to the metal casing that surround their exterior.

Walking near businesses and other such buildings and like places will cause holographic screens to immediately appear around you, articulating what the place is and what is on offer. The developers have gone to a great extent to make the player feel as though they are a part of the world, and by God they have done an amazing job at making the world welcome the player with open arms into the future.

Of course, although I have described how beautiful the future of Paris is, it ain’t exactly a Utopia. SENSEN, a massive monopoly in the future is in the business of memories; buying, selling, changing; you name it. This here is the most lucrative venture in the future. Memories are knowledge which in itself is power, and SENSEN dominates it all. A person can for instance purchase a happy memory rather than living it, and happy memories can be stolen just as easily. A world where your thoughts; your feelings; everything you are is free to the highest bidder? Now that is something else entirely!

Errorists on the other hand are a small group of people fighting to keep their memories to themselves and to bring SENSEN to its knees. These people seek to remove the unjustly error of creating such a tyrannical business. Nilin herself is one of them; one of the best as well.

The game begins with her memories unfortunately being sucked right out from her skull. The sound of her screaming in excruciating agony as her brain is wiped of all knowledge is almost too much to bear as shudders no doubt run up and down your spine. The game itself is not violent in the sense that blood is sprayed across the walls; all of it is psychological. People plead for their lives as you go to rip into their minds; people scream as their brains implode from the inside. This game may not be in your face violent, but it certainly ain’t for the faint of heart either. Today we live in a world where our thoughts and memories are sacred, but the very idea that they are not and can be stolen is unbelievably frightening, and the developers cash in on this particular ideology.

The opening cinematic of Nilin losing her memories immediately causes the player to feel a great deal of sympathy towards her. Although initially we do not know this young lady, we will be playing as her and almost feel her pain as our own. She stumbles out of her cell, being led down the hall, told that her pain has only just begun and there is one final process to completely eradicate all of her thoughts that she is yet to experience. Nilin is forced into a queue and is then made to watch as people have their final thoughts sucked out, their screams ricocheting about the halls.

Safe to say not everything goes according to plan, with Edge, the brother of Nilin contacting her and efficaciously assisting her to break out. With little knowledge of her surrounds, the player and Nilin form a quick attachment, for neither of us know anything about the city, who we are, or what we are supposed to do, which further helps us adjust to her as not just a character, but as a human being. Nilin is initially scared and freaked out beyond belief, and although it is not typical to see the heroine losing it, this moment works unbelievably well.

Nilin however cannot be too freaked for long because soon enough she needs to get dirty. Although Nilin lost all knowledge of her fighting skills and her abilities, she is a fast learner and can adequately reacquire them. At the beginning of the game Nilin is unfathomably weak, and the combat scenes seem a bit of a drag – they take time to complete and the fact that the keys take a while to learn additionally doesn’t help matters. Nilin’s health is unfathomably low and if you are anything like me, you feel as though Nilin will be unsuccessful initially in the first few fights. In fact at one point a cinematic causes Nilin to lose most of her health and then forces her to go up against a good five combatants; not very fun!

Nilin as previously mentioned does reacquire her skills, which is only too good to be true! In the BACK menu, the player is able to enhance Nilin’s abilities. Her fighting skills come down to three separate flavors; damage, regenerate and recharge. Now, each attack does ‘damage’ per se, but the player is able to increase the overall efficiency of each attack. Regenerate on the other hand (Y in combat) will provide the player with a small boost to their health with each critical hit. Lastly, recharge provides an extra boost to Nilin’s abilities, enabling her to use them more often. A mandatory cooling down process is activated after each use, and by using the recharge ability, Nilin is able to quicken its pace.

During the game, the player is able to personally customise their abilities, to a certain degree of course, but they do have a little leeway denied in other games that strictly state ‘you must follow this particular upgrade tree.’ In Remember Me, the player can create their own. With each attack combo, the player is able to select what benefits Nilin will acquire. For instance, the player could create an attack that does ‘damage, regenerate, damage, recharge, recharge.’ There are a multitude of other options of course; this here is just an example.

These combos however are not quite as easy to perform, as one needs to remember which keys to press. One can always return to the skills screen to see what is needed to successfully pull off a particular combo. Nilin will still acquire the benefits of each key that is successfully hit in the appropriate order, however, as soon as the player hits the wrong one, a new combo immediately begins.

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When Nilin’s abilities are used however, which is where the ‘recharge’ comes into it, none of this really matters. The player can more often than not press any key at any time depending on the power they have selected (only one can be used at any given time) and these do an unfathomable amount of reliable damage. When going up against groups of opponents, well, let’s just say they never stood a chance! When this happens, it is incredibly fun to watch for the enemies are basically helpless to even halter the attacks that Nilin devastates them with.

Nilin can increase her attacks effectiveness and decimate her opponents. She can toss in a grenade that will destroy enemy defenses, or she can render enemies temporally incapable of standing up for themselves, allowing her to attack them whilst ensuring they cannot fight back.

During combat, Nilin can flawlessly dodge out of an enemy’s reach (A), with the game alerting the player to an enemy’s attack before it takes place, giving them fair time to efficaciously move Nilin from one location to the next before she sustains damage. On top of this, Nilin can jump over her opponents, allowing her to continue her assault, or even her combo, on her opponent’s back, front or wherever she damn well pleases. Or, hell, she can just as easily jump to some new prey and inflict pain and suffering upon them too.

If this is not enough, Nilin can perform a devastating finishing touch (B) on some particular opponents that have been defeated, but not yet decimated. These often involve destroying one’s mind, and the player cannot help but cringe and smile at the exact same time as they watch enemy’s minds being invaded as Nilin thrusts her fist through their heads.

The issue with combat has nothing to do with how it is orchestrated, but more along the lines of how easy the scenes eventually become. As soon as the player becomes accustomed to the controls and Nilin begins to reacquire much of her old capabilities, she can smite her enemy with ease. Even when going up against a number of enemies at once, the chance of Nilin falling becomes less and less likely, which renders the originally challenging atmosphere moot.

However, even with this said, sometimes the game does go to the extreme, and the player finds themselves up against a large mass of bad guys. True, these scenes are not always terribly challenging, but on a few occasions you cannot help but stare in awe at the sheer amount of enemies the game has just thrown at you, and it’s even more ludicrous that the game expects you to survive. Of course, Nilin has to, but in reality, it is doubtful even a well trained militarian strike team would come out without a scratch.

Boss battles too are not genuinely terrible to face down, although all of them do originally appear incredibly powerful, each of which always presenting something new, not two battles being alike in nature. These battles often are a little time consuming as you attempt to discover the appropriate methodology needed to eradicate the threat, each boss being a fun challenge to decimate. Some bosses are best eliminated by being in close proximity to them as to keep from allowing such combatants the use their long range attacks, whilst others are the exact opposite, and it is best to keep as far away from them as possible until Nilin has the advantage of striking a vicious blow.

One part of the battles that is entertaining is that not every opponent can be efficaciously eliminated in the same manner as the last. Robots for instance can only be eliminated by blowing them into smithereens. On other occasions, some opponents carry shields that must initially be broken before the enemy themselves can be attacked, and other opponents are immune to all attacks until their defenses have been temporarily taken offline. Simply put, the player is forced to adjust to every fight differently, which keeps the fighting fresh and invigorating which ensures it does not become stale.

As entertaining as these fight scenes can be, and I am not denying that they often are very fun to fight through, the game often works best when it is not a pure fighting experience. There are a few occasions when it is just fight scene after fight scene after fight scene, and on a couple of those occasions I personally felt like saying ‘okay, enough is enough!’ More often than not I acquired more enjoyment when Nilin was evading security, climbing through areas or taking out a couple bad guys every so often, not when she was forced to go up against entire armies time after time.

However, moving back to the topic of complete and utter destruction, every opponent killed delivers points that unlock additional upgrades to help with combat performance. Additionally, there are bits and pieces of upgrades available across the world for one to acquire. Collecting five health upgrade devices will permanently provide Nilin with another health bar, which is damn well necessary in preserving her existence. Power upgrades can increase the longevity of her abilities (again, five are required) and memory fragments too are placed about the environment which allow her to recover her memories about the futuristic world we inhabit.

For these to be acquired, the player needs to explore, and a problem can be encountered here. Although environments are large and beautiful, they are also restrictive. As soon as a player goes in the direction of their objective (more often than not unintentionally because the game doesn’t exactly say which way is which) a cut scene will often begin to play, after which Nilin will not be allowed to venture back because often she is sealed into the next area. On top of this, the game often checkpoints when this occurs, preventing the player from reverting to their previous automated save to ensure some further exploration can be achieved. Basically, if you miss an item; you miss it permanently, which is just frustrating.

If the game can be relied upon for one thing, it is checkpointing, which seems to happen quite frequently. On top of this, after every major battle, often Nilin can find a health kit around the corner which will replenish all of her lost vitality. If this is not enough, the game also babies the player a little more often than it probably should. Whenever something is unlocked, the game provides helpful hint after helpful hint, explaining every little thing in great detail. Although this proves to be of assistance, since every rookie Remember Me player is initially a layman on first play through, the wealth of information can sometimes make one feel a little as though the game is belittling your general intellect; if something is explained, it doesn’t need to be reiterated with alternate words or phrases. This is not only a little insulting, but also takes time away from kicking ass and taking names, and after acquiring a new upgrade the first thing you want to do is test it on the first poor sap you can lay your fingers on, not be told all about it over and over and over.

Although as previously mentioned, the game is initially very beautiful, the first level (not including Episode Zero) is set in decadent slums, which although look finely crafted, do not reflect the gorgeous visuals which can be procured later. The fighting is not nearly as fun as it is later when going up against SENSEN Security, for it feels wickedly sick to outsmart a large cluster of well trained soldiers. For the first hour, although the visuals are stunning and the storyline is captivating, the gloomy atmosphere and surrounds, along with the enemies you encounter is blatantly dark and grim. The game in fact seems to lag at the start, but by the second episode you are finally introduced to a far wealthier area and the game does what it does best; entertain your socks off! If only the first hour could have been just as effective, then I might have been hooked right from the start, but instead, the player is forced to wade through a wee bit of the game before discovering how much of a gem Remember Me truly is.

Although one will no doubt spend a bit of time admiring their environment, visuals themselves play a large role in the game. While moving about the world, image files can be uploaded to certain locations that show where an item can be found. If the player wishes to later find said item, they need to study the environment the photo showcases. Visuals again have a large role to play when shifting through a player’s mind and altering their memory. When this occurs, the player is able to rewind a character’s memory back, and as it begins to play once more, they have the opportunity to alter certain aspects of the world the memory occurred in; they can move items, exchange objects, turn things on or off; there are a vast quantity of actions that can be taken. Visual cues are provided to help show when the player is able to take action, however these are fast and can be easily missed, hence the mandatory need for the player to pay particular attention to their surrounds. Of course, dire ramifications can occur if the player inadvertently changes something in the memory they shouldn’t (there is always a set mission directive when altering a person’s memory, and it is not always as simple as changing every single thing). On occasion the player will need to repeat the process several times to acquire the desired effect, the game being alarming kind to the player and allowing them the opportunity to continuously repeat the process until they have succeeded without the need to return to a checkpoint, et al. These particular puzzles are genuinely fun to solve, and the challenge they bring adds another unique fixture to the game. Although such can prove a little annoying (due to the fiddly controls), they never lose their appeal, and if anything, the only really disappointing factor about these are the significant lack of them, being an incredibly rare puzzle to find in the game.

Breaking into a person’s mind and kicking ass and taking names are not the only occurrences which transpire throughout the campaign, with Nilin adjunctively climbing through numerous sections. Climbing is very similar to other games (Enslaved: Odyssey of the West, Fuse, etc) and is often hardened with certain difficulties that Nilin must on occasion cross. These obstacles can include navigating around hazards, or even timed sequences when she must hurriedly move across a piece of the environment else she becomes knocked off. Climbing however is not without its hindrances, for it is in these moments that the camera decides to take over, the player no longer having any control where it decides to settle itself. On more than one occasion the camera decides to place itself in the most inconvenient location; either being extremely far away or at an odd angle. Whenever this occurs, on occasion the player is forced to venture a guess in which direction they may be forced to navigate in if what they are forced to jump to cannot be acutely seen. This is not always the case mind you, but when it does happen, it is certainly limiting to one’s enjoyment and is thus not as flawlessly articulated as other games where climbing sequences are engineered to a higher standard.

But don’t let any of these potentially negative issues remove any of the positive ideologies I have previously discussed, or even cause you to immediately fathom that the game is not worth procuring. Although original in its nature, the main reason a player will perhaps participate in such a campaign will be due to the character of Nilin herself. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, Nilin has had her memory stolen from her and is thus made to reacquire all that once made her who she is. To do this she is forced to help a number of characters, from her brother to other Errorists fighting to bring down SEMSEM. Due to this, over the course of the game Nilin wonders if she is really doing the right thing, and if she had her memories, would she actually be participating in such actions? Fearing that she may very well be working for an enemy organisation and is being manipulated; the constant fights she has with her own consciousness; and the journey she must undertake to discover the truth about who she really is, is an adventure in itself as amazing as the actual game.

In conclusion, despite a couple of issues, such do not take away from the player’s enjoyment, and Remember Me will ultimately prove to be a fun, futuristic experience quite unlike anything the player has discovered before.

Image References:

http://apa340.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/the-creepy-cull-of-female-protagonists/

http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/remember-me-review-caught-between-prescience-and-commerce/

http://www.gamingadvance.com/new-remember-me-gameplay-shows-off-innovative-combat-system/

http://www.justpushstart.com/2013/06/remember-me-review/

Lighting a Fuse: Analysing Insomniac’s new Third Person Shooter

Title: FuseFuse-Box-Art
Developer: Insomnia
Distributor: EA
Platforms: PS3 and XBOX 360
Genre: Team oriented third person action

Pros:
-Relentless action sequences
-Powerful upgrades
-Captivating action oriented storyline
-Awesome take down moves
-Incredibly fun

Cons:
-Graphics seem a little outdated
-Been there, done that

Rating (out of ten): 8

Synopsis: A solid, entertaining action shooter that ought to have been released a year ago.

If some of the best ideas from games the likes of Gears of War, Vanquish, Enslaved: Odyssey of the West and Brute Force were all meshed up into one title, that game might very well end up being this new creation from the developers of Ratchet and Clank and Resistance.

Fuse is a futuristic third person team oriented shooter in a time when the governments of the world are attempting to discover a new form of renewable energy. An energy source, capable of unquantifiable levels of destruction is unfortunately discovered in the process, but its consequential power is not exactly energy, as it is so much militarian, with limitless potential for building an unstoppable army to bring an end to any other force on the planet.

Raven, an antagonistic military group that have gone beyond rogue have seized control of this unimaginably powerful energy source and God only knows what they intend to do with it. Burgess, a man contacted to help apprehend Raven and destroy the Fuse energy, rallies his team, consisting of four unique operatives from around the globe, each with different backgrounds and skills that can advantageously take care of this diabolical situation that is slowly but surely spiraling hopelessly out of control.  

Taking down choppers is not quite as easy as one might imagine...

Taking down choppers is not quite as easy as one might imagine…

Over the course of the campaign, each member of the team who the player has the option of playing as during the game, hold three weapons, originally beginning with just an ordinary pistol (if you acquire the Fusion Pack DLC you can upgrade your pistol to immediately use Fuse based technology) and additionally having the ability to carry another weapon of their choosing, whether that be an assault rifle, a sniper class weapon or a shotgun. The third weapon each character is able to wield are their unique Fuse empowered devices which they acquire not long into the campaign. When this occurs, each team member begins to address a certain function that the team needs to survive and complete their objectives.

Dalton, the team’s leader, who has a past with Raven and is now doing his best to shut down their rogue operation, acquires a Magsheild, which allows him to generate a well, a shield (obviously?) that will halter any firepower from injuring him or any team member standing behind it. Additionally, enemy rounds will be plucked out from the air by the device and launched back at the one who fired them. Simply put, Dalton becomes the conventional shock trooper.

FUSE_Dalton_Solo-1024x576

Jacob, the voice of reason and quite possibly the heart of the team acquires himself a crossbow of sorts, which is capable of launching Fuse empowered rounds that can burn through enemy combatants. These can be fired from a hefty distance which allows him to become the team’s stereotypical sniper.

Fuse_Jacob_2

Izzy, who is seen as the brains of the outfit, being both cold and lethal at the same time, acquires herself a weapon that will crystallise the environment and her opponents and cause them to explode. The opposite affect will happen to her team, as she is able to launch crystals with a healing serum in the direction of her fellow comrades which will advantageously benefit their progress and keep them alive longer and heal them over time, thus making her the team’s medic.

Fuse_Izzy_2

Lastly, Naya, the team member I played as, an assassin with a foxy British accent (meow!) whose father has become caught up in the exploits of Raven, found herself carrying a singularity shock weapon that allowed black holes to appear and suck enemies into oblivion. The more enemies hit by the rounds meant that the implosion would become more devastating, a chain reaction taking place which sucked in everyone within the vicinity and blew the others around like rag dolls. This adjunctively came equipped with the phantom cloak, allowing Naya to become invisible for a short duration, enabling her to become the team’s scout, and further empower her lethal assassination skills.

WOW!

WOW!

Unlike in Brute Force, where during the single player campaign the player had to physically activate each particular squad member’s capabilities, the AI will naturally do this during the game, which sufficiently aids progress and makes the action even more fun to fight through.

This was not all though. Larger enemies found throughout the game who are basically the champions of Raven; often being large hulking mechs with extraordinary weapons can have their firepower ripped away from them once they have been relegated to a cadaver. Although these weapons impede movement, they are incredibly powerful and only come equipped with a limited amount of firepower so ought to be utilised whilst available.

Moreover, the weapons the characters were equipped with, along with their health and abilities could be upgraded over the course of the story. Every so often, the player went up a level which presented them with not one skill point, but four; one for each member of the team. Unfortunately the team members do not naturally assign their own skill points and so this is up to the prerogative of the player. Since this is the case, the player is then able to choose what to upgrade and what special abilities the characters will use. The more abilities the characters have at their disposal, the more the AI will be able to use over the course of the game. For instance, in the case of Izzy, she does not automatically begin the game with her healing ability, and this subsequently needs to be unlocked. Once it has been, she was use it when applicable.

Additionally, there are team perks; beneficial upgrades which unanimously assist each of the squad members. Unlike the points acquired by leveling up, these particular ones are acquired from Fuse credits found throughout the game. Fuse credits are small stacks of gold worth 500 each, however, when each upgrade costs 10,000 credits, well, safe to say one needs to scour the maps up and down in an attempt to find them. These abilities are often similar to the traits assigned to each player, however they often, as the title suggests, come with their unique perks. For instance, the marksman ability allows the player to acquire ammunition each time they pull off a successful head shot. Other perks increase damage resistance, or simply resistance to one particular offensive attack; the ability to level up at a faster pace; or even the chance to not consume so much Fuse energy when using special player capabilities.

That’s right, each player ability does run on ammo; the same ammo that each of the player’s Fuse based weapons run on, which is rather annoying, and at the end of the day it comes down to whether or not the player wants to use their ammo to assault the enemy from afar, or for tactical superiority.

Apart from being a babe, Naya's combat abilities and amazing weaponry make her absolutely ruthless in combat.

Apart from being a babe, Naya’s abilities and amazing weaponry make her absolutely ruthless in combat.

Firepower is not the only weapon in each character’s arsenal though, with the team able to pull off special melee moves. Sneaking up behind enemies, players can break the necks of their opponents, drag their bodies over crates, or slit their throats with knives. During combat, the players are able to perform a wild manner of exciting kick ass combat moves which look really extraordinary. Just keep hitting the melee button and the player will automatically continue to perform admirably on the battlefield.

There is of course one addendum to all of this Fuse energy; since Raven has stolen the technology, your team are not the only ones capable of using such amazing technology. Over the course of the game you will run into opponents who are cloaked, who sneak up behind you and take you hostage, using you as a human shield as they assault the rest of your team. Enemies who have Fuse shields covering their person; enemies who are able to heal their comrades if they happen to be in a certain vicinity of them; the list goes on, and thus the player needs to accommodate themselves for any situation and prepare accordingly, adapting to each combat scenario.

Boss battles are especially deranged when it comes to this; not in a bad way, but the limits of the imagination are diabolically stretched, these particular battles often being a time consuming process in which the player needs to adopt a particular strategy as to efficaciously beat their opponent, who of course is never alone, with a number of friends coming to assist them as they wage their private war against you.

Moving on, as with many games today there is no traditional health bar per se, and as soon as your character takes too much damage they are out for the count, temporally at least. Much like in Gears of War, the player is left to crawl across the ground crying out for assistance, a person needing to physically revive you, vice versa, before a timer on your screen runs out. If you or any other member of your team dies, the game officially comes to an end, much unlike Gears of War when your fellow team members could crawl around the floor for days asking for assistance and never require any; in Fuse, you either help your team or help hinder your own progress, which makes your friends far more important to you than in other titles where they are basically invincible.

The AI of your team furthermore is not bad, although like with many games they do on occasion get in your way when you are firing and complain about how terrible a shot you are, even though they clearly ran into your line of fire. In the campaign, as per usual, you need to do almost everything, which is kind of odd since you would think that the others would be able to push a button just as well as you can. There are moments when the team needs to do something in synchronicity or all at once and will automatically perform their tasks, but other times it is left solely up to you. This includes shutting off gun turrets, hacking computers, demolishing walls, et al.

The enemy will additionally more often than not act in a manner that will ensure a challenge. There is no skill level so in the end it really comes down to the sheer number of bad guys thrust upon you and their general skill. Enemies will flank, throw grenades to flush you out and take cover. A number of them come equipped with jump packs and hover devices which allow them to expertly fly from one location to the next, allowing them to acquire a better vantage point or avoid fire. However, as soon as the combined effort of your team is placed onto a number of targets, the single most intelligent bad guy alive would be unable to succeed in surviving such an assault, sometimes making fire fights move by at a steady, quick pace.

As for your own intellect – as previously mentioned, Fuse is a straight forward shooter, and thus the player is normally not required to think too strenuously about what to do. As long as you know where the fire button is and can master the controls in a short duration of time, Fuse will most definitely become your oyster.

As amazing as it might seem, although the game, much like Gears of War Judgment is one great big kill fest, unlike in Epic’s newest shooter, never did the action get old. Environments, from bunkers, to forests compounds and locations in the snow ensure that the scenarios the player fights through are frequently fresh and invigorating.

kicking ass and taking names

kicking ass and taking names

When your team are forced to interact with tasks alongside you, one can clearly see how Insomniac are attempting to showcase the importance of the team, and are embodying a large number of occurrences which real militarian groups strategically do together as to create a strong realistic vibe and to make certain that you never feel alone.

However, don’t let this idea of realism put you off for there is plenty of healthy banter that goes on over the course of the game. Since Dalton has a past with Raven, often he becomes the brunt of some of the jokes made about this terrorist force. On other occasions, the jokes have some sexual reference that is not deliberate as much as it is stereotypical. At one point when climbing, Dalton says to Naya ‘I just love to watch you climb’ and in response to this she says ‘Izzy, if you catch (Dalton) staring at my arse, you have my permission to shoot him.’

As entertaining as the game can be though, sometimes I personally wondered ‘hasn’t this been done before?’ Reviving your team and having to be revived, symbolic of Gears of War, and also reminiscent of the team oriented combat found in Epic’s shooter. The ability to switch players is very much reminiscent of what could happen in Brute Force, and the need to on occasion climb obstacles is representative of Enslaved and other like titles. I did previously mention that Fuse seemed to take many of the great ideas from previous games, and if this be the case, at the end of the day it seems blatantly obvious where much of the inspiration is derived. Of course, if these are original ideas, then I am sorry but it would seem that Insomniac is a little too late, which can also be partially said in relation to their graphics.

Now, there is nothing wrong with the graphics of the game. Levels are often incredibly beautiful and vibrantly bright. The characters and the enemies they face are just as beautifully detailed as the environments, however, in comparison to games the likes of Crysis 3 that have already been released this year, Fuse seems rather outdated by at least a year. Explosions especially often look like a number of lines spiraling in all directions with a bright mixture of colour overlapping them.

In conclusion, Fuse is a fun action oriented shooter where the fighting almost never stops. There is always another mission to accomplish; another enemy to eliminate; and another level to acquire, and you will only be too happy to succeed in each of these objectives.

Image References:

http://gamerant.com/fuse-screenshots-insomniac-games/fuse-naya/

http://www.insomniacgames.com/games/fuse/#/news/detail/fuse-update-3-6-13

http://www.newgamernation.com/fuse-the-dalton-rules-trailer-released/

http://www.psu.com/a019403/

http://www.rocketchainsaw.com.au/interview-brian-allgeier-creative-director-fuse-insomniac-2367/

Descend into the Darkness in the new Star Trek feature

Title: Star Trek: Into Darkness
Distributor: Paramount
Producers: Sky Dance/Bad Robot
Director: J.J. Abrams

Rating (out of 5): 3

Synopsis: Terrific special effects and a few action sequences are not enough to save Star Trek: Into Darkness from itself.

Review: For those of you aware of the idea that a sequel is never able to live up to the expectations of the original, or the stereotypical notion that there is in fact no such thing as a bad trailer, then you will completely understand when I say that Star Trek: Into Darkness represents both of these ideologies.

For those of you, like me, who saw the trailer for the new Star Trek film and thought how riveting it looked; do not be fooled. Luckily for me I was able to see the film free due to my new membership with the cinema that I frequent, because if I had paid money to see this film, I may be even more disappointed.

Star Trek: Into Darkness begins, how do I put this, almost pointlessly. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Enterprise are on an alien planet where the local fauna are comprised of primitive humanoids yet to acquire the mantel of technology. Kirk decides to intervene with the course of the history the planet is to take by sending Spock (Zachary Quinto) into a volcano on the verge of erupting, the goal being to cease this event immediately, and for some odd reason this requires stealing a scroll from the local primitives and running through the woods.

After this scene the film does pick up the pace by informing you why this  was applicable; this shows that Kirk is yet to take the role of being a Captain seriously. He has no respect for authority or the rules and is incapable of conforming to Star-fleet’s way of handling missions. This inevitably leads to Kirk being removed as Captain and re-instated as first officer, whilst Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) is recommissioned as the ships’ captain.

Whilst this occurs, in London, Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), the primary antagionist of the movie approaches a Star-fleet officer and his wife, whose daughter is gravely ill, and says that he will help save her, at a cost, this being only the start of his major plan which results in the deaths of many members of Star-fleet’s highest ranking officers. After this onslaught of violence takes place, Kirk, thirsty for vengeance requests that Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller), the highest ranking officer in humanity’s fleet give him permission to pursue Khan to where he is hiding on the Klingon world of Kronos. Marcus agrees to the savagery of the operation, despite it going against the general code of the fleet for this is a mission of destruction, rather than what Star-fleet stereotypically handles. Kirk is provided with no less than 72 missiles to be dropped onto Khan’s head to bring retribution to all he has harmed with his plots. The Enterprise however is to do its best not to alert the Klingon’s to their presence for they have been itching for a reason to go to war against them for so long now that it is basically inevitable.

Of course, not everything goes according to the plan…The movie is not as plain and simple as one might initially imagine, with a very intriguing storyline filled with a fair amount of depth, telling a tale of betrayal, redemption, vengeance, family and love. Not everyone is as good as they seem, just as the bad guys are not so terrible as they may originally appear. There are many twists and turns that ought to keep anyone entertained, but it is there that the film begins to lose points in my opinion.

Although yes, there are a number of action scenes, these often go by so fast that you only begin to enjoy them when they suddenly come to a conclusion. On top of that, Khan is built up to be this incredibly impressive one man killing machine and yet the amount of screen time he has where he is indeed kicking ass and taking names is not quite as much as I would have liked. True, he does a fair bit of damage by the end, but if you are going to have a powerhouse of an enemy, you might as well show off all of his skills. He throws some guys around and breaks some skulls (literally) but apart from that I really wanted to be impressed, after all, he is later hailed as the greatest threat that they ever faced, and yet his reign of terror is eventually halted so darn easily. Mr. Cumberbatch, the actor who portrays Khan did an admirable portrayal of the enemy which only further increased my frustration. The actor was such a fantastic bad guy, I only wished that the film makers had further milked what could have been generated.

On top of this, although the crew do descend to the planet Kronos, the amount of Klingons that are seen could be counted on yours hands (and maybe one of your toes). The War Birds look impressive, but, in my opinion, if you are going to place the crew of the Enterprise on one of the single most inhospitable planets in the known universe, the least you could do is have some extra fighting. There is one particularly engrossing fight scene, and after this the film moves on. All this talk of war with the Klingons and yet, where is it?

The music provides very little new content to the genre, most of the themes been rehashed from the original feature. The cameo role by Leonard Nimoy will no doubt cause your eyes to roll to the side as this was perhaps unnecessary, and although he provides invaluable information, this could have been acquired via alternate methods. On top of this, the cameo by Nazneen Contractor additionally seems odd – I mean, why hire a known actress to play an unbelievably small role?

Moreover, Zoe Saldana’s role as Uhura is not quite as large as many fans of such a character may enjoy. In fact, the amount of screen time that she and Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) receive in the film does not begin to even contrast with the amount of screen time the blocks receive, this movie being basically a guy’s night out, with the intellectually powerful women being limited in their roles.

Towards the end, a scene that age old Star Trek fans will be familiar with is reflected in the film, and although it is orchestrated very powerfully by the actors involved, it seems cliche when in regards to the scene it is based upon (you’ll know what I mean when you see it!).

In conclusion, Star Trek: Into Darkness will entertain you – but it will leave you hungry for so much more. Let’s just hope that in the future, the next Star Trek villain who claims to be an unstoppable force to be reckoned with really lives up to the title.

Become the ultimate Dragon slayer in the new Far Cry 3 Mod

 

Title: Far Cry 3 Blood Dragonblood dragon
Developer:
Ubisoft Montreal
Distributor: Ubisoft
Cost: 1200 Microsoft points
Size: 1.35 Gigabytes
Length:  4.5+ hours (dependant on how
many side quests etc one takes)

More Entertaining Than:
Duke Nukem Forever

Less Entertaining Than:
Rage

Pros:
-plenty of humour
-relentless action sequences
-entertaining missions
-nice graphics
-chock full of explosions
-reasonably challenging

Cons:
-occasionally slow and unmanageable controls
-game doesn’t save during missions

Rating (out of ten): 9.5

Synopsis: This is quite possibly one of the single most stupidest games I have ever played; I loved every minute of it.

Move over Jon St. John, Michael Biehn is here to command the screen as one of the most humorous action heroes in video gaming.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon has absolutely nothing to do with the game that this mod is crafted from – with the exception that it is set on an island. Based upon the old retro oriented games in the ‘80s where ideas on post-apocalyptic futures commanded by mechanical-cyborg organisms were postulated, Ubisoft uses this connotation and completely takes the piss out of it to create a riveting action experience.

Set in 2007 after a terrifying war between Russia and the U.S has left Canada completely irradiated from nuclear warfare and Australia invaded by enemy troops, the world is attempting to come to terms with the word ‘peace’, which seems to be something that may in fact never come to fruition. To fight these wars, humans, who are brought back to life as war machines, are commanded to annihilate the enemy with extreme prejudice. Kind of gives new meaning to the term ‘no rest for the wicked.’

The character the player takes control over, Rex Power Colt, is a Mac IV soldier. With the hiring of Michael Biehn (Terminator, Aliens, the Abyss, et al) to voice the central protagonist, Ubisoft is apparently attempting to accentuate a futurist type of feel to the game and the use of music that is similar to that of the terminator soundtrack further empowers this ideal. Mr. Biehn does a flawless job at voicing the character, his voice being incredibly husky and coming out in a growl and the sheer patriotism of his character is further empowered by such talented voice acting.

Moving on, Rex has been replaced with the all new Mac V, a tougher, more advanced killing machine. This however does not necessarily mean that he has been disposed of; the U.S does not remove what they can still use. After a threat is discovered on an island, Rex and his fellow Mac IV, T.T (Spider) Brown are sent in to exterminate the enemy.

As a Mac IV, Rex comes attached with many benefits that the human body is yet to master. For one, Rex can survive basically any fall, whether it be from ten meters or ten thousand. Moreover, he can hold his breath under water for an indefinite amount of time and can run impeccably fast without having to take a moment of pause.

The cinematics displayed between levels are reminiscent of a comic book and those familiar with Star Hawk may see some resemblance here. The graphics in these movies have been purposefully designed to have an ‘80s appearance to them, much like the arcade games that this particular title is loosely based upon. Although these cinematics are nothing terribly special, they certainly get the job done in showing the audience what is happening.

The game begins with an amazing aerial battle in which almost every single thing is capable of being blasted into oblivion, before you land and continue the battle on foot. It is now that the tutorial begins, thanks to your good friend Spider who believes you are in need of a basic refresher. Right from the start when the tutorial states ‘running is like walking, only faster’ you genuinely know this is not going to be a serious experience. On top of this, your character is prone to spout some pretty humorous one-liners. Shoot a man in the head and it’s either ‘he’s heading for hell’ or ‘now that’s my kind of head job.’ Wield a shotgun and it’s ‘he called shotgun’, use a grenade and it’s ‘I like the part when they blow up.’ The lines are endless and even after they have been repeated several times they never grow old. Furthermore, Rex will additionally have quite comical conversations on occasion with his HUD, who proves to be quite an annoying specimen over the course of the campaign.

Rex immediately has the ability to assassinate enemies and execute chian kills. Additionally, one is able to assassinate an enemy and then toss a ninja star at their next unsuspecting opponent just to change things up a bit. On top of this, the player begins the game with a pretty impressive arsenal of kick ass weaponry, including a semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, an assault rifle that fires lasers and a sniper rifle. For me, the sniper rifle handled much like a double-decker bus and half the time when I held down the sights I was barely able to hit the target, let alone what happened to be behind it. Then again, maybe this was just my general incompetence. After all, the game did say in the statistics that me general aim was worth a whopping 15%. Not exactly something worth throwing a party over now, is it?

Each weapon in the game can be upgraded at stations found in camps (which shall be discussed later), these upgrades including anything from the ability to carry more ammunition, a larger magazine, silencers, etc. Later during the game, the player will have access to other weapons which are reflective of the fire power found in the game this mod is based upon, including a bow (which is far more impressive than the one in Far Cry 3), a flame thrower and an alternate version of the original assault rifle, just to name a few. Of course, the one weapon that you, much like myself, will probably come to love the most is the minigun, however this weapon is unable to receive upgrades. Then again, why would it need to when it kicks ass just fine without any.

On top of this, the player has access to the usual grenades, Molotov cocktails, mines, etc. These do some impeccable damage, however seem to take an unfathomable amount of time to throw. If you wish to launch a couple, one after another, you will find that the game will not respond at an adequate speed, which proves to be a little annoying. Adjunctively, the weapon wheel takes some time to master and half the time the player may incidentally select something that they never wanted in the first place, from acquiring the wrong weapon, to, more than likely, incidentally exchanging their secondary weapon (grenade) for an alternate explosive ordinance.

Moreover, much like in Far Cry 3, the player is able to level up and become stronger, the game allowing the player to reach the rank of level 30. Unlike in Far Cry 3 where the player had the option of choosing what skills they gained after levelling up, the game does this automatically. Each level provides the character with a new skill, whether that be moving faster whilst crouching; the ability to drop down on unsuspecting prey; the ability to reload whilst moving, etc. Additionally, almost every second level the player reaches will increase the player’s health by one slot. Trust me when I tell you; you are going to need it!

By the end of the first mission, the player discovers the ruthless antagonist who runs the island is none other than Rex’s former leader; a champion Colonel named Ike Sloan; a patriot turned delusional nutcase who believes that bringing death and destruction to the world is the only way to facilitate peace. But we’re not gonna let him go through with this plan, are we? No! I’ll tell you what we are going to do! We are going to blow him! Wait, that didn’t sound right. Let’s try that again; we are going to blow him away! (Better).

After meeting Colonel Sloan, who realises that Rex will not co-operate, he apparently decides that it will be reasonably hilarious to throw him into a Blood Dragon pit. It is here that the game acquires its name. The Blood Dragons are incredibly dangerous monsters that are nearly invulnerable to harm. Although their eyesight is reasonably deteriorated, they can track their enemy efficaciously with their other sensors. Immune to fire and capable of discharging a radioactive beam of energy from their mouths that causes massive trauma upon their victims, the only thing that is capable of temporarily acquiring the attention of these vile brutes are the hearts of fallen cyborgs. Much like in Far Cry 3 where one could loot the bodies of the dead, in this particular title, Rex will rip the hearts out from enemies and use these to distract the Dragons who will more often than not run in the direction of the food and gobble it up quick smart. Such a tactic can additionally be used to lure the dragons towards enemy cyborgs and have the two duke it out. More challenging however are the Dragons that are successfully under Sloan’s command via a device on their heads that identifies his men as friendly units, which such Dragons will not dare attack. These particular monsters are invulnerable to the lure of cyborg hearts; of course, if one were to shoot at the coupling device that keeps them as Sloan’s bitches; yeah, you see what I’m getting at!

However, much like with the weapon wheel, attempting to lure the Dragons is no easy task. On the XBOX controller, the button used to lure the Dragons is on the left of the D-pad. Why is this so much trouble you might ask? Well, the top of the D-pad is reserved for the binoculars. This particular device allows the player to zoom in and see everything in infra-red. Even enemies hiding beneath the water can be efficaciously seen. The button on the right moreover is used to toss dice, that will temporarily distract cyborg opponents. My point here is that although I hit the left side of the D-pad, I more often than not inadvertently activated the binoculars when attempting to toss hearts out at the Dragons, which significantly impaired my ability to survive, and when you are, for instance, going up against two Dragons at once, which later happens during the game (in a rather enclosed space mind you) this can become considerably annoying. Safe to assume a few choice words will no doubt be said during these moments.

Of course, it is not just Blood Dragons that the player will need to look out for, with Ubisoft having a few extra surprises in store for the player…

Furthermore, it is from this moment on that Rex works alongside Dr. Elizabeth V. Darling, a scientist who worked with Sloan who has realised how deranged he is and has turned against him in an attempt to halter his madness. The six major quests that the player undertakes (after the original, bringing the total count to seven) are provided to Rex by the good doctor who assists him in helping to take down Sloan.

Although quintessentially an action experience, it is from now on that the player is given leeway to explore the island. Much like in Far Cry 3 there are enemy encampments which the player can capture and thus make their own. Of course, much like in Far Cry 3 also, enemies at these camps can call in additional strike teams to suppress your attempt to take out the enemy stronghold. Once captured, the player will have access to the weapon station (as mentioned previously). However, not all weapon upgrades will immediately appear and thus need to be unlocked by completing side quests that appear at the camps which have been captured. These come in two flavours; one is the stereotypical hunt down a particular animal quest, which was found in the game this mod is based upon. Unlike Far Cry 3 where the game was blatantly cruel to animals (half the missions involving the killing of animals I never bothered to undertake because they made me feel sick at the thought of hurting sweet, sweet creatures), in this game the animals are all cyborgs, much like your opponents. Cyber sharks, alligators, dogs, tigers; you name it, they are, all of them, either robotic in nature, or in serious disrepair (take a look at the goats and you’ll see what I mean) which means that killing them will probably not cause any great deal of distress. The other mission variation available to the player is to save a nerd. In each quest, a nerd has been captured and needs to be rescued. Although the game recommends the player does this stealthily, you can actually be as raucously loud as you wish. Go in all guns blazing; I certainly did most all the time. The nerd however can only sustain so much damage before they expire so it is recommended that you eliminate the enemy post haste.

As for the main quests on the other hand, these are often random acts of incredible violence, with enough action and explosions for several video games. These include anything from decimating a hydro-electric dam; descending into the depths of a Blood Dragon research facility and even making one’s way into an alternate world (no kidding!) which players may find symbolic of one particular moment from Far Cry 3. Each mission ends with a relatively challenging scenario that is sure to test the player’s genuine skill, but the real test of one’s skill is their patience. Although missions checkpoint, much like in Far Cry 3, they do not save. The game can only be saved when the player is not on any mission. Whilst undertaking a job, Rex must successfully complete it, for if the player quits during a quest, all of their progress will be cancelled, so when the player returns, they will be forced to grudgingly do everything all over again.

Upon reaching the sixth mission moreover, the player will no longer be allowed to explore the island again until successful completion of the main campaign, so be sure to be stocked up before moving forward marine! As for the ending; if I could use one word to describe it, it would be this; SPECTACULAR!

Filled to the brim with action, suspense, sex, humour and more fire power than you could possibly poke a stick at, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is not just the kind of mod that you simply must play; it’s the kind of mod the Far Cry 3 should have been in the first place. A worthy instalment for any action gaming fan!

Image Credits:

http://www.computerandvideogames.com/400322/far-cry-3-blood-dragon-announced-with-bonkers-trailer/

Say Goodbye to the crew of the Normandy SR-2 in the final Mass Effect 3 DLC – Citadel!

 

DLC Title: Citadel (Parts 1 & 2)
Developer: Bioware
Cost: 1200 Microsoft Credits
Size: 4GB
Length: approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes

Pros:
-incredibly entertaining
-hilarious banter and one liners
-terrific boss encounter
-challenging opponents
-many great twists and turns
-the return of all fabulous Mass Effect characters
-Wrex is back! YAY!

Cons:
-stealth scenarios give you the heeby jeeby’s
-little health and ammunition during fight scenes

Rating: (out of ten) 9

Blogger’s Note – Over the course of this review, I will often refer to Commander Shepard as a ‘she’ because I more often than not play through the Mass Effect campaigns as a female protagonist.

What are the best Mass Effect DLC’s you can think of off the top of your head? Lair of the Shadow Broker? Stolen Memory? Well, almost certainly, Citadel will soon join those ranks as well.

If Citadel is anything, it is a reminder to all the fans of the franchise of what made Mass Effect so amazing. Perfectly orchestrated and well designed, Citadel is a story of team work and love, but most importantly, it is about the strength of friendship, and what separates Shepard from the many opponents that she faces.

‘Few people know what Shepard’s been through – I’d like to think I’ve come pretty close’
-Admiral David Anderson

Mass Effect often focuses on the battles that Shepard and her team members are forced to face and the strength of the loyalty that combines them and makes their team so efficient. Often this is shown through some rather morose and dire scenes of battle, so it is a welcome relief to see the honorable members of the crew being who they are in a more playful, enjoyable environment.

Citadel begins with a message from Admiral Hackett to your e-mail, requesting you to bring the Normandy into port on the Citadel so the old girl can be looked after by some mechanics as to ensure she is operating at proficient levels. The second and more prominent reason for this invitation though is for some active shore leave, so that all the crew can officially recharge their batteries before the final showdown.

Upon arrival, Anderson welcomes Shepard to his humble abode on the giant space station via extranet link, notifying her that his place is now hers for the taking. Immediately you have the option to explore your new residence, and can delve into the history that is Anderson’s past by listening to the many recordings scattered around his now former residence.

gorgeously atmospheric

gorgeously atmospheric

 

in-door gardens, fire-places, water features and plenty of places to explore make Shepard's new residence one helluva place to visit!

in-door gardens, fire-places, water features and plenty of places to explore make Shepard’s new residence one helluva place to visit!

 

...and yes, I play as Fem Shepard...

…and yes, I play as Fem Shepard…

You could very easy look over the three bedrooms, many bathrooms and other amazing features that the apartment comes equipped with over and over again, but eventually you will need to reply to your new message from Joker, who invites Shepard down to a revered Sushi restaurant to discuss some important news with her.

As soon as you arrive at the Silver Sun Strip, you'll never want to leave

As soon as you arrive at the Silver Sun Strip, you’ll never want to leave

Making your way through some of the Citadel’s more attractive locations is incredibly fun, with the graphically stunning environments, realistic sounds and fun conversations to listen in on easily bringing this beautiful location to life.

'the best restaurant on the Citadel' is what they call this place - and everybody blames you when it gets attacked

‘the best restaurant on the Citadel’ is what they call this place – and everybody blames you when it gets attacked

‘Only had to save the universe twice to get a table’ announces Joker upon your arrival to such a luxurious restaurant. This line however is only one of several that are quite humorous, for unlike much of the Mass Effect titles, the writers of Citadel were apparently not without a sense of humour. ‘What do we know about these mercs?’ asks Liara over the comm. when the shit hits the fan, and Shepard’s reply is ‘they have guns and they don’t like me’, and after incidentally setting off a security system, Garus questions ‘was that an alarm?’, to which Shepard replies ‘thought I’d make things a little more interesting’, and again when antagonising the leader of the mercenary band, Shepard threatens ‘the last guy who trash talked me was a few kilometers taller than you.’

After Joker’s one liner, it is then that he asks ‘what did you want to talk to me about?’ Apparently, he was NOT the one who sent you the e-mail, and one it seems was sent from you to him. Someone has hacked your account, and has forced you to this location for a reason, which Mira Brooks, an Alliance employee who spends her days sitting behind a desk quickly rushes over to tell you.

Mira Brooks is not the stereotypical heroine, and so it is quite humorous to watch someone who obviously does not belong in an action oriented environment attempt to not only fraternise with arse kicking legends, but attempt to navigate through such hostile environments. She is an incredibly awkward young woman, and often says something totally un-heroic, the likes of ‘might throw up a little bit now if that’s okay with everyone?’

Brrooks contemplates on whether everyone's opinion of her will suddenly drop if she runs for her life

Brooks contemplates on whether everyone’s opinion of her will suddenly drop if she runs for her life

Long story short, Brooks rushes over to explain ‘someone is trying to kill you’, and funnily enough, this time it ain’t Cerberus, nor is it the Reapers. This is a brand new enemy who has an unbelievably large, and well armed mercenary band who are well prepared to inflict maximum casualties to ensure the successful promulgation of their endeavors.

As soon as Brooks enters the Sushi restaurant however, everything goes horribly wrong when that same enemy mentioned in the above paragraph? Well, they happen to stroll in as well, and after shooting up the place, Shepard finds herself blasting out through the glass floor, through an aquarium filled with fish and onto a docking level below.

The graphics during this scene, with the pieces of broken glass and the droplets of water coating the commander’s hair is terrifically effective, and immediately helps to pave the way for the other scenes that will, as always, capture your attention with the vivid imagery.

‘That pain you feel – that’s me kicking your ass!’
-Commander Shepard

It is now that the fighting officially begins, however, the initial battle sequences are not quite as enjoyable as what players would have participated in during previous downloadable games. Armed with only a silenced pistol (which is considerably effective actually), no health packs and very little ammunition, you are forced to covertly make your way through a docking structure teeming with opponents in the hopes of eventually locating your team members who are contacting you over the comms and notifying you of their willingness to help eradicate the new found threat.

These few areas where stealth is a necessary component to the fighting (else you will alert a mass of bad guys to your location (they don’t call it MASS Effect for nothing!)) are very much unlike what you would have previously experienced in other Mass Effect missions, where they are predominantly action oriented. In my opinion, the stealth sequences temporarily reduce the sheer amount of fun that the player could have enjoyed from the mission, and is a very peculiar addition to the storyline. It would be like going to a strip club, only to watch the women put their clothes on – very peculiar indeed.

Eventually though you are lucky enough to meet up with the stunningly gorgeous Liara and the always entertaining Wrex (who is bored of general Council business for which he was brought onto the station to consult upon), whose opening scene is so mesmerizing you will want to play the mission all over again just to witness this moment once more!

Liara proves how effective her communication skills are - and later, Wrex gives you a weapon that you will never want to part with!

Liara proves how effective her communication skills are – and later, Wrex gives you a weapon that you will never want to part with!

From now on the experience is more often  than not filled with explosions, gun battles and tactical supremacy, and in-between the action you find yourself talking with your team at your apartment in regards to what must be done next.

Shepard and her partner in crime Garus at the 'cool secret hideout' discuss how they hope 'the bad guys don't look through a window' and discover them.

Shepard and her partner in crime Garus at the ‘cool secret hideout’ discuss how they hope ‘the bad guys don’t look through a window’ and discover them.

One great aspect of this particular mission is the challenging opponents. Much like in Omega, which introduced a number of powerful new villains, Citadel packs a whopping punch with the artillery that they dare to throw at you. Known only as CAT 6, who are former members of the Alliance militarian division who have been dishonorably discharged for one reason or another, each member of the team is well protected by shields. The Heavy is especially well armored with a shield that makes that which some of the Cerberus units carry around with them appear like nothing more than flimsy pieces of tissue paper. These particular shields are immune even to Disrupter ammo, and so attempting to take these guys out becomes quite a hefty challenge, especially when they come at you in packs.

If that is not enough, these guys don’t just throw grenades when from afar – no, they throw several at once, which makes avoiding them all the more difficult for they are able to spread their explosive ordinance out.

On top of this, another new opponent is the Disruption Drone, which is a little holographic guy who flies around anonymously, before chasing after you, its goal being to get close enough before it discharges a massive EMP bomb which neutralises your shields.

new and old friends unite to bring an alternate flavor to the fight!

new and old friends unite to bring an alternate flavor to the fight!

 

Forget about following the yellow brick road - follow the little blue cord. During the second stage of the mission, you crash a party in order to discover who your opponent is. To do this, you must covertly infiltrate through the massive building whilst avoiding the many security parameters. Fun times!

Forget about following the yellow brick road – follow the little blue cord. During the second stage of the mission, you crash a party in order to discover who your opponent is. To do this, you must covertly infiltrate through a massive building whilst avoiding the many security parameters. Fun times!

Moreover, unlike the other missions that you have previously experienced, in this particular DLC, everyone is involved, and by everyone, I mean EVERYONE! True, you still run about with two team members to carry you all the way through the mission, however, the rest of your team split up into two – Hammerhead and Mako, and make their way through the facility along with you, providing advantageous fire support.

‘That’s why I love hanging out with you guys. Why shoot something once, when you can shoot it forty six more times?’
-Urdnot Wrex

whilst fighting through the Citadel, you can discover video logs on the history of the universe and battles long forgotten...

whilst fighting through the Citadel, you can discover video logs on the history of the universe and battles long forgotten…

 

...and learn about more coverups at the hands of the Council in regards to the Reapers

…and learn about more coverups at the hands of the Council in regards to the Reapers

After the mission is complete, and the final boss, who is an unfathomably challenging and very entertaining opponent has been eliminated (and you will never guess where this final, breathtaking scene takes place!), the DLC is not yet over, for celebrations are to be enjoyed. Joker has already begun sending out invitations to members of the crew, and you are able to continue doing this – you can invite some, or, like me, invite every single team member who is able to attend.

With shore leave having been interrupted, now is the time for you and your team to officially have some time off from the strenuous fighting that continuously occurs. Before the party happens, you are able to run around the Silver Sun Strip, which is a beautifully elegant and fun loving location on the Citadel. You can play games at the arcade, gamble at the casino and fight in the areans at the Armax Arcade, and can even do so alongside fellow team members who later become unlocked as you continue through the scenarios that may remind notorious gamers of the Firefight mode in the Halo games.

In the Armax arenas you can choose what opponents you fight against, the enemy classes that will spawn in the map, the possible bonus points, and much more!

In the Armax arenas you can choose what opponents you fight against, the enemy classes that will spawn in the map, the possible bonus points, and much more!

Additionally, you will receive messages from the crew, each of whom wishes to spend some time with you. These segments are unfathomably pleasurable, and include meeting Blasto the Jellyfish whilst on the set for the eighth feature film in the franchise with a morose Javik; helping Garus flirt with a foxy Turain woman at the local bar; meeting Jack’s new pet; and hearing about the adventures that Grunt and his Krogan pals have been up to on the Citadel – all of which has left C-Sec in a very bad mood.

Rarely does Miranda venture out in Mass Effect 3. But she finds the time during the mission to tell you how disappointed she is that you destroyed her favorite Sushi restaurant.

Rarely does Miranda venture out in Mass Effect 3. But she finds the time during the mission to tell you how disappointed she is that you destroyed her favorite Sushi restaurant.

 

Garus discovers he ain't quite the ladies man he once thought he was

Garus discovers he ain’t quite the ladies man he once thought he was

All of this is both hilariously funny and very moving as you experience time off with each of your friends on board the Normandy, before proceeding to buy the necessities for your soiree. Again, this is especially entertaining, for during the event you are able to move from one group to another as they discuss what has happened and their general thoughts, opinions and feelings. The conversations are very fun to take part in, and so too are much of the other occurrences that later transpire, with the adorably cute kleptomaniac Kasumi appearing every so often to either say or do something incredibly fun to watch. Furthermore, you are able to consult Glyph, the resident host, and either tone down the festivities, or, if you are anything like me, tone them up, until many of your crew become highly intoxicated on booze and begin to go about doing some pretty outlandishly hilarious things. Moreover, with two Krogan running about your apartment, you have to wonder if your residence will even be in one piece after the night’s festivities have ended.

The party has only just started. But, just you wait. In a few scenes time, many will have armed themselves with guns in a drunken stupor to see who is superior, biotics will be levitating their friends, and EDI will question what Operative Traynor meant when she said she found her voice so attractive and wanted to, what? She wanted to do what to her? Wow! Hot Stuff!

The party has only just started. But, just you wait. In a few scenes time, many will have armed themselves with guns in a drunken stupor to see who is superior, biotics will be levitating their friends, and EDI will question what Operative Traynor meant when she said she found her voice so attractive and wanted to, what? She wanted to do what to her? Wow! Hot Stuff!

 

Don't look now, but everyone is about to side with Estevez...and ask Joker to participate in a shooting competition - whilst drunk out of his mind!

Don’t look now, but everyone is about to side with Estevez…and ask Joker to participate in a shooting competition!

However, much like the franchise itself, the fun eventually comes to an end, even if you do not wish it to. Whatever the case, it has been a fabulous 7 years of Mass Effect, and if this particular DLC does anything, it proves that there is still a lot of life left in the series, and although it is doubtful we will ever see these amazing characters again in future Mass Effect games, Citadel allows us to say goodbye to some of the most memorable characters ever conceived in video game history.

A terrific end to a terrific franchise? Certainly, that is what Citadel is, and on that note, I officially change my ‘9’ in my overall rating of the DLC, to a ‘10’, for Citadel is much like the entirety of the Mass Effect series; undoubtedly fabulous.

Kiss your Majesty goodbye in the new Halo 4 DLC!

Map Pack: Majestic

Size: approximately 400 megabytes

Levels: 4

Release Date: 25th of February in the Northern hemisphere, 26th in the South

Landfall:

This medium sized map has unbelievably detailed graphics which efficaciously cause the city to come to life in mythic detail. To further accentuate the overall feel of the city under dire threat, Covenant forces have attacked in full, with capital ships visible in the background decimating buildings left and right. Huge fires cover the horizon, with mushroom clouds of smoke gliding across the air. Human civilian transports rush into the battlefield to pick up stranded refugees, before moving out as quickly as they arrived, with two Broadswords located just outside the map, ready to help reinforce the depleting numbers of hardened marines battling for the safety of the planet.

Photo-0004

Within the realm of the map, the word ‘evacuate’ moves across computerised screens in bold yellow letters, furthering the idea in the mind of the player that the city is under massive threat. But so too are you, the player, within the multiplayer map. There are many tight corners and corridors across the map which will inevitably cause one too many close calls and tight fight sequences to take place. Explosive ordinances are left lying about the map, which can advantageously assist players in dispatching weakened opposition. The lack of any good vantage point, with the exception of two separate corners prevents those who would normally prefer to camp out the inability to acquire those perfect head shots from the view of a sniper scope.

Landfall is one of those rare few maps that is great for any occasion, whether you are into hardcore deathmatch or team based games the likes of capture the flag.

Monolith:

For its name, Monolith is not quite as gargantuan as one might have initially believed upon seeing its title; in reality it is a moderately sized map that is suited to almost any specific game type.

Reminiscent of previous maps in the Halo 4 game the likes of Erosion and Impact, this particular map is located within an asteroid field, with two specific bases located at either end, even the rocky surface of the ground you fight upon changing colours to alert you to which base you happen to be stumbling into. The walls and general feel of the entire map is reflective of a forerunner facility long abandoned and left forgotten in the vast blackness of outer space, repurposed now for the means of terminating battling Spartans.

Unlike other maps, upon entry into the game, vast quantities of ordinances appear immediately to help accommodate the player lusting for a better weapon than the conventional AR5.

There are a number of jump pads located in front of either base, which can be used to effectively avoid enemies and quickly move from one location to the next without fear of being targeted for assault. Jump pads positioned at the rear of either base are perfect for sneaking up on opposition undetected, which can hinder those attempting to snipe targets making their way towards their base. Although the map offers fantastic vantage points to overlook the surrounding area at either base of operations, the rear jump pads offer your opponent the potential chance of assassinating you just as effortlessly.

Skyline:

For those familiar with the Citadel in Mass Effect, in particular, the second game of the trilogy, Skyline will no doubt make you feel right at home. The distorted sound of the voice over crackling over the communication transmitter beckons you into this futuristic civilisation in the dead of night. Looming over the city from one of the many far corners of the civilised planet, the player is given the spectacular vantage point to see a vast quantity of choppers and other like transport gliding through the air in the distance, whilst other vehicles quickly rush across the freeways below.

The sound of beeping terminals and the flashing of computers further immerses you into this living, breathing civilisation yet to be touched by the malicious hand of the Covenant war machine.

halo 3

This relatively small map which is suited best for accommodating players interested in participating in deathmatches, comes equipped with two floors, the upper providing the player with the unfair advantage of easily targeting the opposition running about on the lower deck. Although stairs can be used to defeat the purpose of the advantages of the players who occupy the top most floor of the structure, jump pads are just as easy as getting this done.

Additionally, for those on the lower floor, you will more often than not feel more like a rat in a maze than a Spartan super soldier, whilst those who overlook the lower floor can quickly jump from one side to the next due to the vast number of objects which stick up that can be used as unconventional bridges to help those on the upper floor track those on the bottom.

Vortex:

This is the only large map accommodating vehicles which comes in this particular DLC. Unfortunately, you the player may feel somewhat cheated, for the map will no doubt remind you of Solace in more ways than one. Unlike the former map mentioned, where at times it was difficult to spot enemies in the vast number of vantage points within the map, Vortex has a more structured feel to it, and is especially great at supporting those wishing to play a team based game the likes of capture the flag.

As previously mentioned, this map supports vehicles, however I did not specify how many; safe to say, if you love Halo vehicles, then this map is for you, because if you can’t find a vehicle in this, you are certainly not looking hard enough. Warthogs are positioned in front of either base and along the sides, with additional Ghosts and Mongooses to support these. In the centre of the map a Warthog with a rocket launcher attachment is up for grabs to either team, whilst the strongest vehicle on the battlefield is the Wraith, hidden away to the side.

The building in the centre positioned over the top of the central Warthog is reminiscent more of Covenant technology than the bases which are representative of historical Forerunner facilities. Here at the central compound, weapon turrets overlook the bases, with the red base in particular being in sight of one of the turrets, which can be used by the opposing team to wipe out the enemy forces as they waltz out from the base and onto the map proper. With this particular building and the sheer size of the map in general, this particular battlefield is a great place to hone those sniper skills of yours upon a long distance rifle being deployed into the map.

For those unfortunate enough not to have a vehicle (for instance, those running about the map with an enemy flag), the few jump pads can be used to increase the distance between Spartans running about the map on foot and those in hot pursuit in vehicles. Of course, the side passages, especially one covered with cacti on the right side (the left when moving out from the red base) are perfect for avoiding vehicular manslaughter and a vast majority of foot traffic in the process as well, with most of the firing taking place in the centre of the map which is essentially a kill zone for any not fast enough to outmanoeuvre stronger combatants.

On a final note, entering enemy bases is relatively easy, and judging by their abnormally small size, acquiring whatever is mandatory for successful completion of the game is just as simple – it’s getting out alive that is the hard part. Safe to say, this is one match worth playing for anyone wishing to participate in a Halo team building exercise.

New York goes native in the legendary final instalment of the Crysis trilogy!

Review of the Crysis 3 campaign

Developer: Crytek
Publisher: EA
Available: as of February 21st (in Europe and Australia) (19th in USA)
Consoles: PC, PS3 and XBOX360

 

More Entertaining Than: Crysis

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Less Entertaining Than: Bioshock

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Rating (out of 10): 9

Length: Between 8 and 10 hours

Pros:
-Gorgeous visuals
-Intense storyline
-Frequent entertaining action sequences
-Powerful weapons
-Advantageously beneficial upgrades

Cons:
-Disappointingly short
-Easily exploitable AI
-Unchallenging scenarios

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Since 2007, Crytek have been dazzling gamers with the Crysis franchise, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Like Halo, Gears of War and Mass Effect before it, Crysis is a trilogy, and Crysis 3 sees the game come to a close.

Once more you put on the legendary Nano suit and take control over the character Prophet, who effortlessly commands the screen in this relentless action blockbuster.

As always, you go up against the insidious Ceph alien force, whilst additionally facing CELL, the human organisation wishing to use the alien technology to dominate the planet.

Crysis 3 is set over 20 years after the events of the game before it, and is once more set in New York. However, time has not been nice with what is hailed as one of the single most beautiful cities in all the world; CELL have encased the once proud state in a gigantic sphere to separate it from the rest of society, whilst commanding the awesome power of the Ceph from within to seize control of the American capital and force all into enslavement; working to help them further dominate the planet. But, as we all know, utilising alien tech is traditionally never a smart thing to do, and so inevitably everything is bound to go terribly wrong.

Believed to be extinct, the Ceph wait to once more rise up from beneath the Earth to complete their master plan; to send a message out to their own galaxy, and alert their forces to come to planet Earth to bring an end to the human species with one swift act of global extinction.

Prophet knows the plans of the aliens, for when he upgraded his Nano suit with alien technology he managed to connect himself to the Ceph hive mind, and communicate with the villainous leader of the Ceph forces; the Alpha Ceph, who communicated back to him his plan; and how Prophet would fail to stop it from coming to fruition.

After been captured by CELL, who wish to rid Prophet of his suit in exchange for the power it contains, he is saved by his old friend Michael Sykes; known to Prophet as Psycho, a former Nano super soldier. He however has not been so lucky, Psycho’s suit having been torturously ripped from his body, reducing him once more to his humanity.

Because of this, Prophet remains the only soldier wielding the power of the mythical Nano suit; and so is the only human being alive capable of stopping not only CELL, but the horrifying Ceph forces. It is here, that Crysis 3 begins.

Unlike its predecessors, Crysis 3 offers an emotionally in-depth experience. In a few of the cut scenes that separate the action sequences, the sheer intensity of the scenes will really get to you, and they proudly display not only human’s will to survive, but the immense power of humanity’s spirit, and the human heart.

These moments are triumphantly executed with beautiful acting and outstanding visual effects that will ultimately leave you breathless.

Graphically, Crysis 3 is unfathomably superb, and has, hands down, the most gorgeously fabulous visuals of any game released this year. The flawless graphics allow the characters to come to life and the environments you fight through look all the more stunning, drawing you deeper into the storyline and the frequent action sequences.

When not eliminating hordes of enemy opponents, you will most likely be admiring the beautiful effects that Crytek have efficaciously installed into their product.

Psycho returns for the action

Psycho returns for the action

Joining Prophet and Psycho this time round is Psycho’s girlfriend, Claire, who appears much like Ashley Williams/Kaiden Alenko in Mass Effect 2 and 3 after the discovery that Sheperd had briefly forged an alliance with Cerberus; except Crytek further accentuate the animosity. Throughout a majority of the game, Claire sees Prophet as nothing more than a machine, referring to him as an ‘it’ and as ‘hardware’, going so far as to say that he is not even human. She is unbelievably emotionlessly zealous, and I will not be surprised if you come to loath her character as much as she hates yours for a considerable portion of the title.

Another character who joins the team is Resch, who is the former founder of the Hargrave Institute and the designer of the original Nano suit, whose knowledge on its design could very well be unfathomably wealthy.

Moving on, the Ceph have additionally upgraded their ranks, and you will discover that there are not just grunts and heavies roaming about the fields, with a few friends coming to join the war effort to halt your progress. One new opponent is the Incinerator, who uses a terrific flame thrower to heinously devour you in fire. When been fired upon, it borrows its head, its only vulnerable point, into the ground as to keep you from taking it offline, which is a wonderfully unique experience.

Some may recall that in the original Crysis, although the period was short lived, you were given the opportunity to wield an alien weapon. In Crysis 3, this ability is in vogue once more, with some awesome hardware the likes of the Balt Sniper, Incinerator, Reaper Cannon and the predominantly found Pinch Rifle, just to name a few, all been up for grabs.

However, alien tech can only be equipped for a temporary basis, and cannot be fixed into a slot in your inventory. Running on a singular power cell, once all of the energy has been spent, the weapon is rendered redundant, and you return to wielding human weaponry.

An annoying feature of the alien weaponry is that not always does an alien opponent drop a weapon after been eliminated. On many instances I obliterated an alien antagonist, only to find that it failed to drop anything for me to take. Bigger enemies always drop something though, but grunts only provide you with a nice little gift every so often, so don’t be continuously expecting a reward for taking a few of them down.

Alien technology aside though, the human weapons at your disposal are just as entertaining as they always were in previous titles, with the return of the much loved Scar, Feline, Marshal, Jackal (and my personal favourite) the Grendel.

Additionally, the Predator Bow makes an appearance into your inventory, been an addition to the other three weapons that you choose to carry (one primary, one secondary, and explosive ordinances). The bow effectively allows you to fire, whilst remaining concealed in cloak mode, and you can retrieve basic carbon impact arrows from the bodies of your enemies.

The arrow types include, as already mentioned, carbon impact, which is your typical day to day arrow; the super thermite arrow, which will stick to any surface before detonating when an enemy enters its proximity; the airburst frag, which detonates upon impact, and is great for dealing with groups of opponents, and lastly the electric charge arrow, which decimates all technology with an EMP burst that fries anything electronic.

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All weapons can once more be upgraded, however the system works differently than it has in the past. No longer are the potential upgrades simply beneficial, and on occasion upgrades will limit your weapons as much as they empower them.

For instance, employing a larger magazine will limit the total amount of rounds you can carry for that weapon, whilst attaching a fore grip will limit a weapons’ overall efficiency.

This is additionally the case with some of the upgrades that can be attached to your Nano suit. Unlike in Crysis 2, where you acquired what was essentially needed to upgrade your armour from the bodies of the deceased Ceph, in Crysis 3 you need to discover small packages which each contains a single credit which can be spent towards an upgrade.

Upgrades require between 1 and 3 credits each as to be successfully unlocked, and so you need to choose what it is that you intend to spend your points upon. Unlike in the second game where there were four separate categories to choose from and you could only purchase one from each to use at a time, in Crysis 3, all upgrades can be attached to your armour to make you unbelievably powerful.

However, as previously mentioned, some of the upgrades additionally limit you as much as they benefit your character; for instance, by increasing the potency of your suit’s armour capability, you additionally cause your body to move slower. This is simply one of several examples to be found. Safe to say, you need to make choices as to what you wish to be made stronger, and what you are willing to sacrifice to be all that you must to defeat the alien menace.

Another new addition to the game is the ability to hack enemy turrets, mines, doors and other like devices, which on occasion is a mandatory aspect of the game. Hacking in general is not immensely difficult; you must align the signal wave so that it all connects to the same circuit – honestly, it sounds more difficult than it is. The difficulty can sometimes be that you might be under pressure from enemy fire, and if you fail the hack, your suit’s energy is automatically fried and you must begin again.

Furthermore, the enemy AI is something that the Crysis franchise has always had difficulty delivering. In previous titles one might on occasion find an enemy running into a wall and refusing to budge. Once more, this is one such occurrence that transpired a number of times during the game. If you happen to be on a higher ledge than an enemy, more often than not they will run up to the corner of the building you stand upon and stand there as though waiting to be shot.

Although easy to exploit, the enemy AI also does have its moments. Enemies do take cover and will call in support (they do this unbelievably well) and take notice if members of their team are killed. If they see you, find a body of a deceased member of their team or believe something is wrong, they will immediately begin to make your life a misery by alerting everyone to the presence of an enemy combatant.

Stereotypical enemies are not very powerful and can be dispatched with ease, however, so can your character, even with the legendary Nano suit, and so much of the game is spent ducking in and out of cover.

Because of this, Crysis is not very challenging, and you will often find yourself flying through the campaign, even on the ‘Super Soldier’ difficulty setting.

Many a moment can be easily conquered with the use of the awesome abilities of your Nano suit and the raw firepower of your weapons. If anything, the Predator Bow further increases the effectiveness of your inventory, and even the strongest opponent can be taken down with but a single arrow (on occasion).

When fire power is not working, one can simply run around the opposition, all the way to the next area and continue on from there, avoiding whatever it was they were having difficulty with in the process.

For example, one particular moment that looked particularly gruesome to me was when I had to make my way to Claire’s location and provide her with cover fire. To get there however I had to cross several battlefields rife with unimaginable enemies. Suddenly, I discovered a tank in the corner, and I let loose with the trigger and haltered the enemy rampage with such unbelievable ease that I even surprised myself when even the biggest enemy of all came crashing to the ground with very little struggle.

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Due to the game’s ease, it will not take long for you to eventually complete the campaign which you could finish off over the course of a day (yes, even on the highest skill setting). Previous Crysis titles offered considerably challenging scenarios and (especially the second game in the franchise) offered a rather massive campaign. With that said, the general size of the game, and the knowledge that this is the last in the franchise, will leave you feeling a little deprived as you lick your lips after your final battle in the hope for a little more.

However, even though the campaign is ridiculously short for a Crytek game, the ending brings to a close the series and leaves you feeling content with all that you have accomplished, from the original Crysis, to the conclusion of Crysis 3.

All in all, Crytek should be proud of their legendary accomplishment, and someone should most certainly by these guys several rounds of beers.

Image References:

http://www.ea.com/crysis

http://www.ea.com/au/crysis-3

http://gameplot.net/crysis-3-hd.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crysis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioShock

http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/11/15/crysis-3-trailer-and-screenshots/