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

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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!

Photo-0001

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?

Photo-0002

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!

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/

Derek Childs parades through the streets, searching for a darn good book

15bzx2Title: Puppet Parade
Author: Zeinab Alayann
(
http://zenscribbles.wordpress.com/)
Genre: Fantasy,
Young Adult/Tween Fiction

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4

Summary: An entertaining magical
adventure that is both satisfyingly
unique and character driven with
moments of emotional greatness,
intellect and excitement.

Perhaps I’m being presumptuous, but every child believes they can make a wish and have it come to fruition. The sad truth is that such can never be. Author Zeinab Alayan however intelligently uses this as the initial force to cause her text to vibrantly come to life.

Sophie, a young woman who has been locked up inside her own room since she was very young (think Hitler’s Daughter by Jackie French), wishes upon a falling star to be released. All her life, Sophie has been told that a sickness which engulfed her body turned her hideously ugly and over the course of the text she is often found wearing a mask to shield the world from looking upon her supposedly wretched face. Ms. Alayan does such an efficacious job at articulating this particular part of Sophie’s character that the readership is unable to imagine Sophie has anything but an internally beautiful young woman. At worse, Sophie does seem to represent characteristics that could make her appear like a prima donna, but she is so genuinely sweet, intelligent, thoughtful, kind and courageous that you cannot help but greatly enjoy her character for the amazing young woman that she is.

Adjunctively, Sophie’s want to not let anyone see her face seems reminiscent of the character Tali Zurah from the Mass Effect Franchise. Tali was a Quarian, a member of a race who were forced to wear suits and masks due to the lacking properties of their immune systems, without which would cause inevitable and almost instant death. Tali was a highly intelligent, resourceful and well trained operative who was also unbelievably sweet, kind and very charming and Sophie’s attitude, not to mention her mask, seem reflective of this completely.

On another note, at the beginning, it is difficult to discern Sophie’s age. For this particular reader, I only realised how old she was not long after she formed a friendship with Oliver, the other protagonist in the story. At this point, before Sophie’s age was unveiled to me, to say that the relationship between Oliver, who had been described as a young man in his early twenties and Sophie, who I believed was younger than she was eventually revealed to be, seemed a little odd.

At the same time, Oliver, a puppet master who creates his own wooden creations wishes for his inanimate objects to be bestowed with life upon noticing the same falling star that Sophie wishes on. One thing I would note however is that Oliver’s voice does not always seem entirely masculine. His character has a very gentle demeanour, along with a formalised attitude that does not always seem to fit the stereotypical male.

Both Sophie and Oliver’s dreams shortly after come true, which inevitably cause them to stumble upon one another that same night after Oliver’s puppets, now very much alive, decide to flee to experience the great wide world. Oliver’s quest to reacquire his escaped puppets is the driving force of the story, with Sophie quickly deciding to join in on the adventure.

The banter between the characters is incredibly entertaining, with Sophie and Oliver’s friendship being reminiscent of ‘will they or won’t they commit to a romanticised relationship’, which is reflective of Bo and Lauren in Lost Girl and Richard Castle and Kate Becket in the self-titled Castle. On top of this, the author additionally articulates feelings the likes of jealousy and attraction which the lead characters do not properly understand as they feel them, yet the readership does. This technique is especially well orchestrated and allows the reader to know things even when the characters do not, emboldening the reader with a great deal of information. This is further exacerbated with the use of the puppets, who, although are wooden creations mind you, provide the text with more humanity, each one embodying a certain character trait, whether that be politeness, religious values, crude humour, violence, et al. Additional emotions the puppets display, from hugging their master, to feeling legitimate fear, loathing, anger or happiness is additionally well executed.

The lead characters, Sophie and Oliver, and the relationship they share, has been very well articulated. Over the course of their adventure, their friendship grows stronger and stronger as they reveal more to one another. Much like in a conversation when a person gasps and giggles in all the right places, the same is done here, Ms. Alayan beautifully conceiving the conversations and revealing hidden truths at all the right moments.

At the same time however, the characters themselves are flawed in their behaviour, which does not seem real at all. On many occasions the characters become shocked by supposedly obscene crude humour and sexual references, which I did not find at all offensive; in fact, they were unbelievably tame and the idea that one could possibly take offense at such sentences is utter folly. This is quite possibly where the text is perhaps at its weakest.

The author appears to have some very loyal views and values and appears unable to be rude or blatantly sexual in her textual nature, instead being considerably polite, sweet and well mannered. This is very admirable; however, in a text where some of the characters are indeed supposed to be sexually rude, this is not furthered with the use of their vocabulary, which maintains a strict PG tone. In a time when texts are more often than not paved with four letter words and often sexual expletives, the fact this one does not require such profanity is indeed a welcome relief, however, at the same time, it is unfortunate that a reader such as myself has become quite accustomed to the indecent swearing found within literature today.

On that note, although the decency of the text works really well, at times I could not properly assimilate into such a world because I had been corrupted by prior texts where that particular author was, on occasion, unable to write a single paragraph without coating every line with vulgarities. Now, I may sometimes argue that a number of these words in texts are unnecessary. Growing up in a country the likes of Australia, where on average, at age three you already know every foul word in the English vernacular and from that moment onwards frequently use such expletives in everyday speech, I have unfortunately become accustomed to having my pieces paved with profanity.

Perhaps in the author’s part of the world swear words do not play such a mandatory role in conversational ideologies and if that be the case, then that is quite honourable and respectful. At the same time, the reason why this text may be self published and not published by a major publishing house is because many an audience outside of the author’s home country may not have been able to thoroughly enjoy the text as much as they should due to its overall genuinely nice nature. If that’s the case, then such is a rather sad conclusion for a text deserving of attention.

The puppet characters too are just as effective in their lines, but at the same time just as courteous. Harold the Hare and Boris the Brutal Bear for instance don’t quite sound the way one might typically believe. I imagined both of their characters having these thick, almost unintelligible accents and yet after conceding this view, the characters began to show other traits; like grinning and smiling, which seemed ill-apparent in the original postulation of such characters.

Adjunctively, on occasion the narrative becomes rather stereotypical of other texts generated today. There often seems to be this implied stigma in texts where women require men to protect them, which seems rather misogynistic as it degrades the female characters and prevents them from becoming the individuals they ultimately should. A number of times the character Oliver unnecessarily reasserts his masculinity by saying how he will protect Sophie’s character, when in fact it is revealed on many an occasion that she can take care of herself. This is reminiscent of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, where the character Katniss is shown to be an incredibly strong willed and capable young woman. Peeta however is seen to hold her back with his borderline chauvinistic attitude when he later emphasises his need to protect her, or, as it so often seems, dominate her. Heroes very rarely need another individual to rescue them, so why is it in texts that often a heroine needs a man to come to her rescue? Women are just as capable as being heroic as men and ought to be able to express their powers of strength and intellect without being overshadowed by dominating men, and at times I thought it would be great for Sophie to venture out from the protective shell that Oliver unnecessarily casts upon her.

Moreover, there are a number of incredibly powerful moments in the text that Ms. Alayan wondrously orchestrates. The few action scenes are well paced and keep your interest from beginning to end, preventing you from stopping even for a fraction of a second. The violence that takes place during these particular scenes is often incredibly blood thirsty and, if anything over-exaggerated to the extent that younger readers should probably be barred from experiencing such content until a more suitable adolescent age. This seems almost ironically contradictory. It feels at times as though the author can barely bring herself to write the word ‘crap’ in her text, but Ms. Alayan has no problem with articulating blood thirsty scenes with rampant violent fighting. This is adjunctively heightened, for instance, in a region dedicated solely to violence, when she meticulously articulates the weaponry used in one particularly gruesome scene, adjunctively using accurate terminology to describe what takes place, all of which is very effectively promulgated.

Moving on, the story begins in the town of Silver Lakeshore, a fictitious community which could be internationally unanimous across a wide number of countries for it is universally symbolic of the stereotypical residential environment. This is a great tactic by the author for anyone in the world can read the text and immediately feel at one with the original textual location before the adventure begins. The story sees the two central characters move from one fantastical realm to another, each land comprised of a central community, dedicated either to religion, scholarly intellect, magic, violence, et al, each one coming equipped with their own unique laws and regulations. These particular lands seem reminiscent of the worlds in Enid Blyton’s the Far Away Tree franchise, each filled with suspense and magical mystery.

Of course, all of this is shrouded by a menacing force located in a desolate region of the fantastical lands. To avoid giving away any plot twists, this reviewer will simply state that the antagonistic force is represented as having powers of persuasive indoctrination, reminiscent of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatches.’ The author does such a great job at developing this evil realm over the course of the storyline with a significant build up of suspense, that Ms. Alayan becomes a victim of her own success, because from this moment on I was hooked, wanting to know more and more about this evil dimension, the information about such a land often being relatively slow coming from its original unveiling.

The ending of the text is something that the reader will in all likelihood not see coming, with a number of very convincing twists that continuously keep one’s attention. At the same time though, there was at least one answer I was longing to acquire that did not seem to be adequately provided.

However, even with this said, by the end of the text I was very satisfied to have had the opportunity to read this unique fantasy novel and to share in the many adventures with the characters. Clearly Ms. Alayan is an author worth looking out for in the future.

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.