Ghosts Among Us: Analysing InfinityWard’s new Shooter

Title: Call of Duty Ghostscall_of_duty_ghosts-hd
Developers: InfinityWard, NeverSoft, Raven
Distributor: Activision
Platform: PC, PS3, XBOX360
(and later XBOX One and PS4)
Length: Between 6-8 hours

Pros:
-Terrific action sequences
-Fun vehicular combat
-Great locations
-Flawless controls
-Riley!!!!!!!!

Cons:
-Sometimes a bit of ‘been there, done that’
-Disappointingly short

Brainless action shooters are a dime a dozen, but I don’t think many of them do what Call of Duty does, which is to highlight the overall strength and proficiency of the armed forces, and the heroism of those who put their lives on the line to bring an end to the violent tyranny of oppressive forces.

Ghosts continues this tradition in what is quite possibly a game where half of the time everything is exploding around you, and you cannot help but stare in awe at the amount of things that go ‘BOOM!’

During the campaign, you predominately play as Logan Walker, the son of Elias, a revered military commander and brother of Hesh, a man who is just as capable, who is thrown into an extraordinary situation when the Federation, a powerful conglomerate of South American forces decide to strike the United States with an unbelievably powerful payload of advanced weaponry. Ten years on, Logan and his brother, who you predominately fight beside, must complete missions of a paramount importance in order to win the crippling war.

Over the course of their journey they happen to bump into the legendary ‘Ghosts’, an elite task force of warriors who put fear into those who would otherwise be afraid of nothing. Teaming up with these agents of tactical destruction, you discover that the leader of the enemy has a past connection with the Ghosts, and his quest for vengeance is almost as bloodthirsty as his quest to destroy everything else.

Graphically, depending on the environment, the game generally looks very nice. People may remember last year, that COD Black Ops 2 was released after Halo 4, the Black Ops graphics being unable to compete with what 343 Industries had concocted. Again, it may seem that COD cannot take a break, for graphics of recent games the likes of Beyond are superior to that which Ghosts offers. That is not to say the graphics are in anyway unappealing; no, not at all. Environments the likes of forests, military facilities, Antarctic grounds and ruined cities all look quite nice; an issue with the game however is that you spend so much time running and gunning that you rarely have the opportunity to stop and survey your surroundings. However, the graphics truly come to life during both the underwater segments, and the battles that take place in outer space (yes, you read that right!).

Apart from just traversing through natural environments, there are creatures that on occasion players are forced to interact with, from wolves, to sharks, both posing considerable problems. (For those who were eaten by sharks in FC3, you will feel right at home in Ghosts’ oceans).

Additionally, weapons especially look very nice. In the past when a player has put down their iron sights, the butt-end of a weapon has, in my opinion, always looked a little graphically flawed, but in Ghosts, this is not apparent, every weapon being an attractive piece of destructive hardware.

On top of the weapons, the vehicles and other pieces of interactive equipment, from automotive turrets to drones are just as fun as ever to pilot. From the very first jeep scene where you run through an ocean load of enemies to reach your goal, you just know that all of the vehicular combat situations will leave your jaw on the ground. There is a later moment where the player is able to pilot a tank, which rushes across the battlefield faster than any other heavily armored assault vehicle I have ever had the honor of playing in a video game.

Not only are vehicles there to assist, but another addition to your team is Riley, a military trained German-Shepperd who is quite realistic; he barks, pants (his tongue literally moving in and out), wags his tail, sniffs the environment and scouts ahead. Not only can you order Riley to attack enemies, but there are moments when Logan can sync with the camera on Riley’s back and temporarily take control of our beloved pooch and help him navigate the field. Apart from being exceptionally fast, Riley has the fantastic combat technique of violently ripping the throats out from enemies necks, an attack which never gets old.
The only issue with Riley is that his screen time is limited throughout the campaign, only appearing in a couple of missions, and a character of his performance deserves a far larger role than the one he was provided.

Adding to the combat, the player is now able to slide (in XBOX, it is holding B while running), which allows the player to quickly navigate from one section of cover to the next and avoid getting their head blasted off, which could on occasion be a problem in previous titles. When hiding behind cover moreover, depending on where you are, upon holding down your iron sights, the game will automatically tilt the character’s head out so you can take some shots at the enemy, and upon releasing the iron sights you return to the safety of cover. There are a number of battles which take place in tight corridors and environments that are quite closed off, and these new tactical abilities assist the player immeasurably.

Despite the appeal of Ghosts, there are moments in the game which, if anything, feel like extracts from recent movies; the introductory scene where the bombing is commenced reminds me of the new Red Dawn when the invasion is instigated. Additionally, there is another scene where an enemy plane links up to a military jet via cables, with enemy troops rappelling down these cables into the body of the plane and extracting a captured antagonist (the Dark Knight Rises anyone?).

On that note, some moments from previous COD titles, such as the carrier being attacked during Black Ops 2, the destruction of the harbor in MW3, invading a rocket facility in the original COD, and being in the unfortunate position of flying in a plane which is destroyed (original COD Expansion Pack) are all somewhat repeated during this campaign.

However, after so many successful titles it is no surprise that InfinityWard may repeat some of their better moments, or try to recreate some more; besides, there are so many action scenes someone can create without eventually doubling up. At the end of the day though, despite the fact the game is so very short, the general appeal to go back and fight the battles again is  incredibly overwhelming.

Rating: 8.5/10

Image Reference:
http://naijabambam.com/call-of-duty-ghosts-release-date-gameplay-trailer-download/

Going Beyond the Beyonds with Quantic Dream’s new emotionally charged thriller

Title: Beyond Two Soulsimages
Developer: Quantic Dream
Distributor: Sony
Platform: PS3

Length: Between 12 – 15 hours

Pros:
-Amazing storyline
-Emotionally powerful
-Dramatically thrilling
-Outstanding graphics
-Brilliant choice options

Cons:
-Occasionally difficult controls
-Awkward fighting scenes

Beyond Two Souls is a masterpiece just waiting to be explored. Every moment of this journey is a well scripted, gorgeously detailed combination of video gaming genius and cinematic enjoyment. In fact, to call Beyond Two Souls a ‘masterpiece’ is perhaps an outright lie, for it is far more impressive than that. Having never played Heavy Rain, I had never actually partaken in a game which is less of a game, and more of a cinematic experience, which is exactly what Quantic Dream’s new title is all about; making the player a part of an interactive movie. In this sense, the player is responsible for all of the choices, and are forced to live with the repercussions, the emotions and the challenges that come with them as you shape the life of the protagonist, Jodie, all of this making the game even more emotionally potent as you continue through the course of her unfathomably unique life.

The game is not orchestrated in chronological order like many video games, and instead crosses from one moment of the character Jodie’s life to another, and although one may initially think this to be both convoluted and difficult to keep up with, this is one of the unique elements which makes the game so appealing. Say, the player goes through a moment in Jodie’s life when she is eighteen and there is mention of something that happened earlier; originally, the player will have no knowledge of this, which shall spark an assortment of questions, which will later be answered when the game travels back to this specific time, hence keeping the player intrigued and on their toes.

Jodie is an incredibly well rounded character, and where many women in video games are reduced to sex symbols with very little opinion of their own, Jodie is the exact opposite. She is almost always in a vast amount of clothing; she becomes emotional when horrific occurrences transpire in her life; she is anxious around strangers and slow to trust; she becomes envious of the opinions of others; spiteful of those who attempt to do her wrong, and has the want to be morally good. Jodie seems like a real, flesh and blood woman, and the acting of Ms. Ellen Page is beyond extraordinary in bringing this amazing character to life, which assisted me in caring not only about the game, but especially for her brilliant character.

Not only is Jodie gorgeous, but she is strong, in both mind and body, independent, romantic, adventurous and very capable. What sets her apart the most from other characters is her connection to Aidan, a ghostly aspiration who has been tied to her for as long as she could remember by an invisible tether. Aidan goes where Jodie goes, and over the course of the game it is questioned as to who really is the dominating figure in this obscure relationship.

The other pivotal character in the game is Nathan, who is a doctor that looks after Jodie for most of her life. Voiced by Mr. William Dafoe, much like Ms. Page, Mr. Dafoe’s acting is exemplary, and he helps bring his character to life on so many levels; as not just a professional individual, but on a brilliantly developed emotional level as well, and although Jodie is the primary character fixated upon, Nathan’s character and the pain he has been through is fabulously represented in Mr. Dafoe’s voice.

On top of this, the acting of all actors involved in developing their characters is just as outstanding, and goes to show that the talent must have been as passionate about the game as the developers were.

Moving on, at any moment in the game, the player can enter the view point of Aidan by hitting the green triangular button, and can then survey the world through Aidan’s eyes. Not only can Aidan see things that other people cannot, but he can travel through walls, interact with the world through telekinetic abilities, he can choke the life out of unsuspecting enemies, and he can possess certain characters and make them do all manner of things. Of course, there is only a certain distance that he is allowed to travel, for the tether that binds him to Jodie acts like a leash, and thus, it has a limited range.

While the player controls Aidan, at times, Jodie can provide him with advice, or tell him not to bother her or to halter his actions entirely, and the player has the option of doing what they are told, or doing the exact opposite. This can lead to quite nefarious occurrences, and the repercussions often affect the life of Jodie herself; you can, at one moment, ruin a date she is on, which will emotionally demolish her, and leave the player, well, me at least, feeling incredibly crappy with myself.

Unlike in other games, the likes of Brute Force, Fuse or Remember Me, where characters are bestowed with special powers and abilities which are unnecessary for the player to successfully complete the game, each of the mentioned titles predominately turning into shoot ’em ups, or, in the case of Remember Me, a continuous punching match, in Beyond Two Souls, Aidan’s ghostly abilities are a necessity in every single level. You may need to open a locked door; distract a guard; navigate an area filled with hostiles; knock items out of the way; the number of possibilities are endless.

Not everything goes according to plan all the time though, but the game will compensate for this. There was a moment in the game when Jodie wanted to leave her accommodations and go out, even though she had been told repeatedly that such was against the rules. However, being the bad boy that I am (to this day I still refuse to eat my broccoli), I helped Jodie by using Aidan to sneak her out of the building, but was unfortunately caught during the process; brilliant escape artist I apparently am not. Instead of bringing up a ‘mission failed’ sign though, the game continued, with Jodie being lectured to about her actions and how everything could have gone hopelessly wrong.

There are a vast number of moments in the game when, if Jodie does not do something properly, the game will continue regardless down an alternate path which will still, inevitably, lead to the intended conclusion. At one point, Jodie was captured by the enemy, and instead of being killed, the cavalry eventually manage to mount a rescue before anything went terribly wrong.

One of the reasons why things may on occasion go wrong, could very well be the controls. Now, I admit, I am more of an XBOX 360 kind of guy myself, and when the PS4 comes out I will not be rushing out to my local game retailer to procure a copy; what I am saying is that perhaps my lack of experience with the PS3 controller partially lead to my downfall on a couple of occasions. When it comes to Aidan interacting with the environment, the player will, more often than not, pull back on the left and right thumb sticks for something to happen, and additionally need to move them in a certain direction. Depending on the occasion, this may include moving an object, healing either Jodie or another character, or even physically moving the memories of an object or a deceased individual into Jodie’s mind so she can glimpse what they witnessed. Some of these occurrences can be downright annoying, for not only does the player have to fight the awkward controls into the right position, but then has to maintain them in that same position for a set duration of time for anything to happen. On occasion, there is a time limit, and if the player fails, then the game will simply take over.

On that note, the game will on many an occasion do everything for the player, including fighting. Fighting in general is another issue with the game; the camera is often in a difficult location as it follows Jodie and will constantly change from being on her back to being on her front. Additionally, in most games, the player needs to pay particular attention to enemy combatants to see what attacks they are doing so the player may avoid them; in the case of Beyond Two Souls, the player needs to keep their eyes predominantly on Jodie. Depending on the direction Jodie moves in, the player moves the camera stick in that particular direction for Jodie to successfully attack or block, and if she fails, this does not result in her demise, for the game will eventually have Jodie beat her opponent regardless of the outcome when the player was at the helm. Safe to say there was more than one occasion when the game saved my sorry ass, however, there were other times when even I managed to surprise myself by helping Jodie kick ass and take names with ease.

This is adjunctively made easier by the fact that the game in general is not terribly difficult. There are two skills levels; one for novices to games, and one for veterans, and even on the latter difficulty, the game posed very little trouble for me.

Moreover, although Beyond Two Souls is at its heart, a ghost story about a young woman haunted by a spectral entity, the game is more of a drama  than a terrifying thriller, and it is several hours into the game before there is even any hint of something spooky. The first time we see Aidan I admit, I jumped into the air because I was not expecting anything creepy to go down, which is one thing that sets the game apart from other titles which have horror elements within them; instead of initially introducing Aidan as this scary creature, he is illustrated as an actual, understandable, recognisable being, rather than a monster, which helps the audience not only adjust to having him around 24/7, but even like and care for his character as well, so by the time a creepy occurrence happens, we do not resent Aidan for it; he cannot help being what he is, and by that time, we have accepted him regardless.

After the first jump there are some other scary moments, and these are just as well managed as the first. Although at times the spooky moments seem a little odd as they are few and far between for the most part, they are beefed up by the continuous mentioning of ‘monsters’, suggesting that there are other ghostly creatures out in the world, and not all of them are as nice and homey as our boy Aidan, and the occasions when Jodie is unfortunately forced to face them are delivered beautifully upon the screen. I will say no more about them, but although they are rare, they are an awesome highlight of the game and remind the player that Beyond Two Souls is just that; a game, one which is deserving of being played.

Beyond Two Souls is a fantastic, unique experience which is not only emotional and passionate, but is is brilliantly written, intelligent and continuously entertaining. I will say this though; if you intend to play Beyond Two Souls, you may want to have a box of tissues handy; many scenes are delivered to such an emotionally high caliber that I for one was deeply affected by the emotion dripping forth from the screen, the ending especially is a real tear-jerker, and one that will stay with you long after the game is over.

Quantic Dream’s new title is, without a doubt, one of the best games I have played all year. Will I play it again? You can count on it!

Rating: 11/10 (even with those occasionally irritable controls)

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy the Beyond experience as much as I did!

Image Reference:

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcREcVr_lD5t162HalBC_UfQjkna9BLyE7lDFG066OC7kXjvzWa3

Recently signed the petition to stop the unjustified killing of Montana’s wolves

Ladies and Gentleman,

 

I know, it has been a little while since I last posted, and I apologise for my inconsistency, however, recently I discovered something that simply ought to be shared because of its monumental significance.

Recently I signed the petition to help save the wolves in Montana from being unjustifiably slaughtered to extinction.

Now, yes, I live in Australia, so what right do I have to have a beef with something that is occurring in another country that I have no ties with?

I would answer that question with another. What right do we as people have to sanction the genocide of an entire species?

I understand that every day several species go extinct and maybe it has become justifiable in human culture to simply watch as animals on Earth are extinguished. But to stand by and do nothing, even when we know that something cruel and inhumane is occurring, is that not criminal? Ethically and morally, if not for any other reason?

Maybe signing the petition will do very little; but it’s a start though – and if doing the right thing is no longer worth anything, then what is the point to being alive?

I personally would like to live in a world where humans are not the only animals walking the planet. What about you guys?

I signed the petition at this particular address:

http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-unjustified-killing-and-hunting-of-montana-s-wolves-use-science?share_id=LejopZyzQv&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

If you believe as I do that this is an important cause, please feel free to sign this petition.

Thank you for reading guys!

Have a great weekend!

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.

Confessions of a Coffee Addict

I know, I know! I haven’t posted anything recently on this particular blog of mine, but fear not (if you were fearing) for I have found a topic that I wish to discuss! (Wild applause)

Ever since Riva disappeared from the shelves, I have been desperately searching for a replacement to supplement my love of coffee. More often than not I am disappointed by the lack of taste or general weakness that a particular blend provides, but upon smelling the fragrance of the Avalanche Duo, and noticing that it was the first coffee since Riva that smelt genuine, I thought I was onto something special.

You will notice I am speaking in past tense, yes – well, that will be revealed soon!

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I always heave two mounds into my cup, with one mound of sugar and no milk (I have always felt that milk deafens the taste). Basically, there are no difficult steps that need to be taken to adequately create a cup of Avalanche coffee, which is surprising because after my first cup of it I could have sworn that something had gone terribly wrong.

Now, for legal reasons, I will say this; I am not a professional reviewer, and this opinion is simply my own!

Okay, now back onto the review…

The first thing I noticed was that each mouthful of Avalanche Duo is thick. Riva and every other coffee blend I have ever drunk was thin, like water, and easily slid down my throat, and unless I am drinking cappuccino, I cannot imagine why a regular coffee would be as thick as this. If that is not enough, the drink is also quite sticky, and it felt as though there was something caught on my teeth, which is the last thing I need to feel whilst attempting to enjoy myself. Drinking coffee is meant to be a relaxing pastime right, not an annoying one?

If this is not enough, although Avalanche Duo smells like coffee, it tastes much different than what I was initially expecting. Instead of tasting, well, like coffee, Avalanche Duo has what I might call a fake chocolate taste to it. Safe to say, if I wanted the equivalent of hot chocolate, I would have bought that rather than coffee.

Lastly, and this is the most important part I realised, the last mouthful, albeit, rather large mouthful, was filled with sludge. Now, I called the hotline for Avalanche Coffee, (which was in New Zealand by the way so I am guessing my phone bill this month is going to be bigger than my ego) and I was told that this is meant to be this way. You see, 15% of this particular coffee is Infused Fresh Coffee, and this is what is supposed to happen when this particular variant is used, although I for the life of me cannot see how this is in anyway tolerated. Imagine drinking a cup of tea, and in the last couple of mouthfuls finding yourself choking on all of the leaves that have spilled out from the bag? That is how this is like, and as you might imagine it was quite a shock for someone who was not at all expecting this, and just as much the second time when this moron forgot what had happened the day before. Imagine that? Forgetful much?

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There is however a way around this issue. If you are like me, you don’t drink your coffee immediately after you make it; you have your lunch/snack, before beginning to savor your coffee afterwards once it has cooled down by a couple of degrees. This is the problem. If you do not drink Avalanche Duo immediately after stiring it, the coffee will accumulate at the bottom in a sludge after returning to its original state. So, if you drink your coffee like I do, you need to stir it again before proceeding to drink – although I must admit one quick stir will not suffice – you need to really put some elbow grease in there, and then it should be alright. Only once though, over the course of the four times I have had Avalanche Duo, have I not had to suffer the sludge at the bottom of my cup.

My concluding review? Well, this is just my opinion and you dear reader may actually enjoy it. I however, a guy who does not believe in wasting food; good, bad or indifferent, cannot wait to finish the bottle that I bought. Must buy? For me, nope, never again I am afraid!

If you have tasted Avalanche Duo and have your own opinion, please comment if you wish.

Thank you for reading, and have a good day! Oh, and good coffee too!

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.

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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/

Furious Six Review

Title: Furious Six
Distributor: Universal
Director: Justin Lin
Writer: Chris Morgan
Rating (out of 5): 5

Summary: Justin Lin and Chris Morgan deliver yet another outstanding action feature

Suspension of disbelief. That is the one concept a person going to see this film should keep in their mind at all times; that everything happening in this film is really a load of bull. There is no way that any of the characters could ever possibly survive the absolutely deranged action scenes that take place within this film, and yet they always manage to get away just by the skin of their teeth. This however is not a bad thing, but it certainly will make you gasp in awe time and time again at how brilliantly conceived the action is and how amazingly convenient many of the scenarios are.

Picking up where Fast Five ended, Furious Six begins with Special Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) looking to take down the internationally dangerous Shaw (Luke Evans), whose team are taking down militarised convoys in an attempt to build a device worth billions to the highest bidder; a device that could do an unfathomable amount of damage when successfully put together.

With traditional methods out of the question for acquiring such a man and his team, Hobbs is forced to recruit a ‘wolf to hunt a wolf”, in this case Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team. At the  end of Fast Five, Hobbs receives proof that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is still alive and working with this antagonistic crew, and it is this information he uses to procure Dom and have him and his team meet him in London to help take down this new threat.

Mia (Jordana Brewster’s) role is rather short in this film as she is now the mother of the child that she and Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) have had, which furthers the idea of family which flows throughout this entire feature.

Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), Gisele (Gal Gabot) and Han (Sung Kang) once again join the team, with Roman and Tej being primarily in control of delivering the wealth of humor throughout the piece which is efficaciously delivered.

As with the previous films, the connection between each of the characters seems extraordinarily powerful and makes the film’s storyline and the emotional interactions between the characters even more believable. There is not one moment that goes by where you don’t believe all of these friends are not a giant family, and thanks to the flawless acting and terrific writing, this is never challenged which only makes the experience even more easy to devour.

In a film spanning 130 minutes, the feature basically is one action scene after another, with a brief separation in-between each for character interaction and planning for the next deranged action-oriented occurrence, and by deranged, I truly mean that; cars go flying in all directions as cars and even later on a tank alike collide with others in this vehicular slaughter-fest. The amount of damage done in this film is unfathomable, and simply needs to be seen to be believed, and even then you probably won’t believe it. Like I said earlier, many action scenes seem convenient; there is always a car to escape in, or some horrible thing that does not immediately take place, which leads to the characters living to fight another day.

Just when the action seems to be over though, another scene even wilder than the last takes place, and even then you still can’t be sure that the film is over. Be sure to stay after the first few seconds of credits for a terrific little (convenient (again!)) cinematic featuring Jason Stratham, which leaves the film wide open for yet another sequel.

You want my opinion? Universal can make a dozen more Fast and the Furious sequels, for if they are all as good as this, then I will surely love to see how far they can push this truly entertaining series.

Simply put, if there is one action film you see this year, then Fast and the Furious Six is definitely that movie! A must see!

 

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/