Thursday 31 July 2014

Mirror Mirror

[And so begins my Blaugust run... might be a day earlier than everyone else due to time difference though! Even my blog is in a different time zone than I am! :P]

I got to see this recently and boy does it take tacky to a new level. There are a few good moments and yes some good laughs too but the director saw fit to push everything to the ridiculously too far, especially towards the end making it far from the best rendition of the classic Snow White tale.

It was good to see Danny Woodburn on screen again. He and the (ethnically diverse?) dwarves are pretty cool as well as Nathan Lane's Brighton, a man servant to the Queen. Julia Roberts' evil queen is... hard to take seriously. She's broke for starters so she does not particularly make a fearsome foe. The "prince" is equally facepalm worthy. At least Lily Collins as Snow White was actually pretty decent. She certainly made a better Snow White than Kirsten Stewart in "Snow White and the Huntsman", which came out at near the same time. The latter movie is still better than this mess though.

All the king's men couldn't put it together again.

The crowning moment of crapiness for me is when the script saw fit to add in a bollywood number. Yeah. All the little things that were ok with the movie were totally flushed down the toilet with that. I'll give this one 1.5 apples out of 5, but you'd better just stay away as it's probably poisoned.

Blaugust Bonus: Part of the Belghast's challenge is to share some of myself in each blog, so I guess to start off with I will answer the question of why am I doing movie reviews? Other than I like watching movies, I actually have the time to watch them at the moment because I am currently unemployed. This is both scary and liberating at the same time.

Monday 28 July 2014

Today I Smiled: Team Four Star DBZ Kai Parody

I've been watching Team Four Star's Dragonball Z "shortened" parodies for sometime now which shorten entire seasons of the show into a handful of episodes and they are always bloody hilarious. This time they get special mention because much like the original was redone into the "Kai" version which cuts out a LOT of filler, they've done the same to their own works and the result is a side spliting laughfest. Would you like to see the first two seasons of Dragonball Z in under 10 minutes? Now you can! :D

Team Four Star DBZ Kai Parody - Episode 1
Team Four Star DBZ Kai Parody - Episode 2

Saturday 26 July 2014

Blaugust Approaches

Belghast has set a big challenge to the blogging community to complete 31 days of blogging next month and for people to share more about their personal lives throughout. I know I've been a bit slack this month with my own posting so I thought I'd participate and see how it goes. Obviously there will be a bit of post spamming going on during this from many other bloggers so I can only imagine how much reading material is going to be popping up.

Honestly I'm not sure if I have the endurance for this task but what worries me more is the sharing part. I'm not so good with that but I suppose you will be learning a thing or two about me during the course of the event and that kinda scares me! Eep! >.<

In any case... you have been warned!

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Today I Smiled: Wierd Al Yankovic

I've always been a fan of Wierd Al and his parody and polka songs so it's probably no surprise to anyone who has been on Youtube recently that he has a bunch of new music clips out, all of which made me smile. If your ear has a liking to his style too then here are the links in case you missed them!

Word Crimes - For all the writers out there, with pretty decent "word" animation!

Tacky - I'm impressed that this whole thing is one continual shot. Wonder how many takes it took?

Foil - my favourite of the bunch!

Hope all of you are having a great day! ^_^

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Neverwinter Online: Fire up your Foundries!

For those who play Neverwinter Online, you have just under two weeks to enter the Cult of the Dragon Foundry contest that Cryptic is holding to celebrate the new module coming out next month "The Tyranny of Dragons". The requirements aren't that severe and while winning is decided by the community (so, we probably won't win) you still get a green level companion just for participating!

Well, this might come in handy...

This might be the time to give the foundry a try if you haven't already, and if you require help or knowledge then feel free to ask and I will try help to the best of my ability.

Just a quick run down on the main requirements:
-one entry per Author, must be new quest (easy)
-include the Cult of the Dragon (easy, just plan for them to be included)
-adhere to Foundry EULA (easy, just stick to D&D, don't add people from Star Trek or Warcraft etc. and don't make it too "sexual")
-average duration of 15 minutes or more

That last one will be what makes or breaks your adventure as a contender. The only way to get that time balance right is to play test a lot, which means actually having something to test BEFORE you submit your finished work to the official thread. Doing too much of one thing for 15 minutes will also lower the enjoyability so you'll need to be smart!

As a slight bonus: Your mission will get plays, even if it is just from other contestants gauging the opposition. That is one of the hardest things when making a mission - advertising and spruiking it, so it's best to take advantage of the official spotlight while you get the chance as foundry contests do not come about very often!

Monday 21 July 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I only caught maybe the last half of the first movie which has the equally wordy title of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and that was enough to set the scene for me with this new release but have no fear, requiring to watch the first one is totally nullified with the informative script present here. For a movie full of monkeys, I found it pretty damn good! There are subtitles to be read for monkey sign language but that's not really a deterrent to me.

Most of the characters were pretty well developed and the acting pretty good, from the apes moreso than the humans surprisingly! Have to say that Gary Oldman is slightly wasted in his role, and probably would have been better as the "hero" human though that would mean changing the dynamics of some of the others. Most useless was the human "son", not really because of his ability but more because he wasn't given anything to do. You could have cut him out entirely or give his plot points to Kirk Acevedo's character. *shrug*

Don't mess with chimpanzee cavalry.

Andy Serkis as Caesar certainly steals the show though, and you'll definitely be looking forward to all scenes involving the chimp leader. I give it four and a half bananas out of five and think it is on the better end of the Planet of the Apes franchise (new and old). Surprisingly, I didn't see any bananas in the movie. Not sure I saw any real monkeys either! :P

Friday 18 July 2014

Peggle Deluxe

I know this is an old game from Popcap, but I only just recently tried it out since it was free in the Origin game launcher. At its core it is a version of pinball with a slew of cute critters that help you get past all 55 levels to reach Peggle Mastery and for some reason this simple, casual and kid friendly game is insanely addictive.

Waaaaay too addictive...!

There are 75 challenges afterwards to reach grandmaster rank (of which I've done 48, they're getting tough!) so it's not like you will run out of things to do too quickly. If you're looking for an in betweener game or diversion then you might want to give Peggle a look. I give it four balls out of five, just from its addictiveness! >.<

Thursday 17 July 2014

The Raid and The Raid 2

These Indonesian martial art / action films are two of my favorite action movies of all time. The first follows a large squad of police officers raiding an apartment building filled with bad guys. It's a pretty simple premise, but it is non stop action from the get go with lots of violence and awesome fight scenes. The second carries on right after the first, though it drops a bit of pace for more story and acting - both of which are of higher quality than I would have expected from what pretty much is a beat-em-up. Not much "Raiding" happening in the second one but still lots of fighting to be had, and quite a lot of blood. A lot.

I do think the first one is slightly better with pacing though.

There's not much more I can give away without spoilers so I'll just leave it at that, but highly recommend both films (in sequence) to any who like that genre and don't mind reading subtitles or can speak Indoneasian. ^_^

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

You might have noticed a large gap between my last post and the one before it, and the main reason for it is this damn game which really brought out the kleptomaniac in me to collect and do all the things! Well, most of the things anyway. I've always liked the Assassin's Creed franchise but have missed a few after Altair and Ezio (up to Brotherhood). That didn't matter as Black Flag picks up a new protagonist in pirate Edward Kenway who is pretty much motivated throughout most of the game by greed, which sits well in both the setting and the available side activities which are done so well that they don't feel like side activities at all!

Privateers don't attack their own country, so... pirate fits better!

As a "Creed" game it has all the familiar stuff of climbing about, jumping into haystacks, hiding from guards occasionally and generally being a near unstoppable killing machine in combat. If you've played any of the previous games this is all the same. Fortunately it also only comprises of maybe 30-40% of the game (which is most of the main story).

What they've added here and added well is a pirate game. You sail your boat around the huge map (which is conveniently littered with fast travel points you can unlock) and can go fishing, treasure hunting and pillaging like the scoundrel you are. You'll find quickly though, that out at sea you -will- get your ass kicked if you don't upgrade the boat. No matter how good Kenway is at swordplay or his personal gear (which you can also upgrade) it won't matter against a cannonball or mortar shell. Even when you've finally upgraded fully there are a few set legendary ships you can try go after and wow, the Spanish ones especially proved quite challenging.

The only downside to some might be the shanties your crew sings but I found them really cool and was eventually humming or singing along to some of them (yes I played too much), but those can be turned off with a simple setting. Speaking of settings, you'll want to have your subtitles on so you can understand (even if Edward can't) what people are saying when they speak in Spanish, French, Portugese or bad olde English.

The modern day stuff (a standard in AC games I think) is interesting too with little hacking games (of frogger) but generally you'll be wanting to hook into the Animus for the most part to keep following Edward's story to its conclusion, and a fine story it is too. As usual the graphics are great though the camera can do some wierd things at times especially in melee. Not that it matters since the bad guys (erm, good guys?) need all the help they can get in that aspect.

Obviously if you don't like sailing games (or sailing games that don't go into depth of what rigging you put up or the build of your mast) or the Assassin's Creed series in general, this probably isn't the game for you. I found it mesmerising and fantastic, and despite it crashing on me every 30 minutes or less I give it 4.5 out of 5 cannonballs.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Battlefield 4: China Rising (Single Player Experience)

Been awhile since I've played a Battlefield franchise and boy has it come a long way since its first iteration of Battlefield 1942. The graphics are sharp, controls very easy, and the single player storyline compelling enough to get invested in the characters. A negative for me was again the difficulty, because the hardest mode is actually easier than the Rambo Video Game, mainly since your squad is on god mode. That's not much of a fault though because as the main content of the game is the multiplayer side, it serves as a good seven mission tutorial on the various weapons, vehicles and other systems present in game. It also sets out the background as to why there's another war on. Might be a shallow reason but hey, it's there.

A surprisingly accurate load out depiction for  a change.

Despite the game complaining that it hates my video card, it never once crashed on me in single player. Indeed the only thing I find puzzling about the whole thing was actually trying to play the game. Not only do you have to log into Origin, but you then are taken to a website where you then decide if you are going single player or multiplayer and it is from there that the game starts up. That's a big step backwards for me. Instead of a title screen or cool intro, you first see a web page. That is shit. Did it become too hard for them to put that in game?

Lastly while the video card thing was passable through single player it is nightmarish for me in multiplayer, as it creates another layer of lag for me to go through making the game pretty much unplayable (if I wanted to actually be competitive). Since that is mostly my issue though I'm leaving out the multiplayer part from my score of three bullets out of five. Since I got it gifted it's not too bad, but if you spent money on it you would want the multiplayer mode working as you will blast through the solo missions in two or so nights of gaming.

Monday 7 July 2014

Rambo the Video Game

Based on the first three Rambo movies, the player gets to step into the shoes of the tortured and violent soul of John Rambo in this "On The Rails" shooter as you relive all the exciting and violent parts in the story (some variation, mostly leaning towards MORE violence). Basically you only need to do four things: Reload your weapon with the proper timing, remember to use cover, pass the many quick time events correctly, and put bullets into the heads of your enemies.

Stabbing works just as well.

It's a very brief game, and even on the hardest Green Beret difficulty you'll probably find yourself at the (truly challenging) final fight without having unlocked much of the skills or weapons you can get from replaying previous missions a particular way. Not sure why you would want to though. While it's semi-cool that the voice lines were ripped directly from the movies, the graphics leave a bit to be desired and you might suspect that the enemies in the first few missions have access to a cloning device as they all look the same.

As a fun diversion it works well enough, and it certainly has increased my interest in borrowing the movies again but it is a ride that doesn't really warrant a second playthrough. Despite the simplistic nature it also managed to crash three times on me which leaves it a pretty low score of two bullets out of five.

Saturday 5 July 2014

Thief (2014 Reboot)

I usually don't play games where you are the "bad" guy, but I am a big fan of the master thief and kleptomaniac Garrett through all his iterations in the Thief series mainly because this franchise offered up some of my favorite stealth mechanics ever - and it was necessary as Garrett is quite frail when it comes to face to face fighting (more so against the monstrous and supernatural enemies).

In this reboot the nameless City returns in pretty and dark splendour for you to explore, complete with the expected patrolling guards and citizens. There are a number of easy jobs you can do while prowling about the streets and rooftops which teach you mechanics for extra cash outside the main, eight chapter story, and there are also six optional "instanced" side missions to complete too. Overall it does a decent job, with an interesting new story (which ends kinda strangely though) and giving nods to the mechanists, Garrett's odd eye, Shalebridge Cradle, the Hag and the Trickster from previous games but sadly most of those are missing in this new imagining as well as the decline of the word "taffer" and random woodsie scrawl that I really grew to love.

My main problem with it was that it is too easy, even on Master difficulty where you cannot kill anyone and must not harm any civilians. The maps certainly feel smaller than the previous ones which in turn make the AI enemies have very simple and often predictable patrol patterns. On top of that, if you build this Garrett the way I did and have the arcade skill to back it up, he can be a beast in melee. When you can knock out five opponents in open combat you begin to question if you really need to do all that sneaking around (unless you play as a "ghost", which I wouldn't have the patience for). If you play on a lesser difficulty I'm pretty sure you can just stroll around openly as you can suddenly just slaughter all the guards with your bow.

The old one-two. First to the balls, then to the face.

There was also a distinct lack of supernatural critters. There is one, pretty scary monster type in the game whom you cannot knock out in melee (stun only) but nowhere near the number and variety when the Trickster was around, not as terrifying as the Cradle inmates, and definitely easier to kill than those damn zombies in the first game where you needed to bless your water arrows to permanently put them down, otherwise they'd just get back up.

Still it was great to be in Garrett's shoes again. Perhaps if I didn't have his previous adventures to compare this to it would score higher but as it stands I give it 3 deadly shadows out of 5.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Being my first foray into any Splinter Cell game, this is the first time I was introduced to the series protagonist Sam Fisher. I'm glad that story wise, it was pretty accommodating to not make me feel like I required previous knowledge about anything. Plot wise it's pretty simple: a terrorist group is threatening to do bad stuff and it's up to you (and your team) to stop it. After the tutorial mission you get access to your mobile base (the Paladin) and can then get the money you make on missions based on your performance to upgrade it and expand your customizable arsenal. Whoever is paying you also rewards you for the strangest things. Killed three enemies with a grenade? That was cool! Here's $30k! Shot some one with a non-silenced pistol while using some poor sap as a human shield? Have $10k!

I'm being sneaky!

Gameplay wise you can try be Rambo (kill everything loudly) or Solid Snake (sneak past everything, or kill them quietly), with most missions leaning in favour to the latter (some even as mandatory) as Sam's impressive agility is counteracted by his highly fatal allergy to bullets especially on perfectionist mode. He could probably take more hits if I geared him up in combat gear instead of stealth gear though - but that's how I like to play. A few, side mini-games also break up the tedium of sneaking now and then throughout the solo campaign which I feel was a good inclusion. There are also side missions, most playable as two person coop, and the usual FPS team PvP. Mostly, against AI anyway, it is a lesson in displacement and flanking.

Graphics wise it is very good, way better than Sniper Elite V2 for example - but the control scheme is almost identical to that game, complete with cover mechanics etc. I didn't have a problem with it but I thought I'd mention it here since a few readers posted their dislike of it. It also still crashed out about 10 times during my play through which is irritating, has subtitles that are slightly off from the actual voice acting (I always turn subtitles on) and occasionally has small logic flaws in the missions. Due to the stealth imposed nature it also feels more like a puzzle game than a shooter in some sections which might put people off. Still, if you don't mind all of those then you are in for a good time. I give it 4 bullets out of 5.

Update: Just played the cooperative mode and though there are only four missions it was very enjoyable. So much so that I am upping my rating to 4.5 bullets out of 5!Your mileage may vary though if you team up with a random who doesn't use voice chat.