Archive for December, 2012

Best of 2012 Closer

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This is it, the last day of 2012 (in Australian time at least – stupid WordPress date numbering system). It has been a pretty awesome year for me personally and a pretty important factor has been the support my first ever blogging attempt has received, both from my friends and from people I’ve never met before, through Facebook, Twitter, the WordPress community and beyond. I am truly grateful to you all. 78 posts in 12 months! Woooo!

If you missed any of my top ten top tens of 2012, here are some conveniently arranged links for you!
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1. Top 10 Game Cases

2. Top 10 Movie Characters

3. Top 15 K-Pop Singles

4. Top 10 Annoying Videogame Experiences

5. Top 10 Songs

6. Top 10 Movie Scenes

7. Top 10 Gaming Moments

8. Top 5 Albums

9. Top 10 Games

10. Top 10 Movies

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Best of 2012: Top 10 Movies

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Somehow we arrive at the end of ten days of top ten lists, one hundred “things” in all. This is the last one; the ten absolute best movies I have seen this year. It was a fantastic year for the big screen, as while there were plenty of indie efforts worth writing home about, many of the blockbusters really stepped up their game in a big way. The unexpected, record-smashing success of one film in particular may have altered the way big studios think about their intellectual properties and release schedules for good.

I don’t profess to having seen all the movies that came out in 2012; heck, I didn’t even see all the movies I wanted to see in 2012. But I did see more than enough of them to make this list a tough one to put together. One thing I noticed about the list after I had finally decided on an order is how weird it looks to see so many movies on it that came out in the first two months of the year; that was so long ago it almost feels like they didn’t release this year at all. The odd thing about living in Australia is that we usually only get movies released late in any given year Stateside early in the next one, which means the majority of movie websites on the internet would have already discussed some of these big screen gems 12 months ago. But I’ll take what I’m given and I was given a lot of good movies in 2012.

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VR BEST OF 2012 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. You have been warned, fanboys.
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10. Hugo

The golden world of Hugo won much attention during last year’s award season for its brilliantly understated use of 3D (look how far we’ve come in 12 months – where is the talk of 3D now?), but that isn’t what made it stand out. Hugo is a heartfelt story appropriate for all ages and its affection for Hollywood’s early history is palpable, particularly in the second half of the story. The sentiment never comes off as cheesy, which could easily have been the case, and the whole film is all the more remarkable given it was directed by gangster film veteran Martin Scorcese.

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Best of 2012: Top 10 Games

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This is where things get serious. It’s the home stretch of my top ten lists covering 2012’s finest entertainment media.

Of all the lists I put together in my head for posting on Vagrant Rant, this one was the least clear-cut. Partially due to the motivation of having a blog to write, I finished more games in 2012 than I have in any calendar year before, which gave me a pretty sizeable pool of experiences from which to draw. Ordering them was a real headache. Seriously, I adore every one of the games in the “Honorable Mentions” section at the bottom of this page and it’s hard to believe I had to cut any of them. Of course, there were some critical and commercial gems I didn’t play at all in 2012, which is a bit of a shame. Sorry, Farcry 3, Mass Effect 3 and Journey.

Unlike when I review a game, I decided not to let the fact that I haven’t finished a certain title stop me from including it on the list. This is ultimately a list of games I enjoyed playing this year, after all. However, to make the list a little fairer, at least in theory, I decided to disqualify any game I haven’t played for at least five hours of game time. That gets rid of some truly high-quality 2012 titles, most notably Uncharted: Golden Abyss, New Super Mario Bros U, Dishonored, Paper Mario Sticker Star and, yes, Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Regardless, it does mean that I’ve had at least a half-decent look at everything you’re about to read about.

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VR BEST OF 2012 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. You have been warned, fanboys.
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10. Kid Icarus: Uprising

Uprising was fighting it out with Mario Tennis Open for this spot on the list, but despite all the multiplayer fun I had with the latter, it was just too hard to discount the entire package that the latest Kid Icarus title offered 3DS owners in 2012. Combining some of the best graphics and craziest stereocopic 3D available on the portable with a clever difficulty system, addictive multiplayer and a host of content aproaching Smash Bros levels of ridiculousness, Kid Icarus: Uprising is a marvelous game, even if its controls take some getting used to.

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Best of 2012: Top 5 Albums

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As I mentioned before in my fifth 2012 top ten list, I haven’t enjoyed as much musical variety in 2012 as I would have thought I might at the beginning of the year. That’s as much a testament to life’s unpredictability as anything, to be sure (I mean, K-Pop? Where did that come from?), but it doesn’t mean I didn’t spin some awesome records in 2012. All five of the following albums are quality releases and they each now hold a special place in my heart. And no, I’m not just saying that; these albums are good.

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VR BEST OF 2012 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. You have been warned, fanboys.
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5. Born to Die – Lana del Rey

One of the first major releases of the year, Born to Die rocketed chart debutant Lana del Rey to stardom with a powerful set of songs making more than decent use of her fantastically versatile vocal ability. From the opening note of the title track, a rollercoaster ride of emotions punctuated by the occasional goosebump is in store for the listener. Del Rey oozes ice-cold confidence like she’s been in the business for decades, which is particularly apparent on the smoky Million Dollar Man. Lyrically she moves from wistful (Video Games) to cocky (National Anthem) and back again, her voice always at the forefront of the sum of each track’s parts. Born to Die is enagaging from start to finish.
FULL REVIEW: HERE

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Best of 2012: Top 10 Gaming Moments

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Just as there were plenty of segments within movies that stood out in the memory throughout 2012, the videogames of the year provided their own set of unforgettable moments. Many of these were related to the experience of playing around with game mechanics, and thus are both personal to me and by nature spoiler-free. However, there were also plenty of story-related moments that shook me much like a film scene might, so read this list with care.

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VR BEST OF 2012 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. You have been warned, fanboys.
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Spoilers

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10. Third Gym – Pokemon White Version 2

The first Gym in Pokemon White Version 2 is deliberately pretty vanilla and the music is identical to that of all the Gyms in White 1. The second Gym shows you in no uncertain terms that the music will not be staying the same from Gym to Gym this time around, but it isn’t until the third that the potential of such an idea really hits home. A string of creepy malformed chords greet your ears, sounding like cicadas dipped in LSD, and the visuals match the audio perfectly. Stringy cocoons litter the dusty building interior, leading up to a mega cocoon housing a psychedelic rainbow paint pool and the Gym leader. Trippy and awesome.

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Best of 2012: Top 10 Movie Scenes

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There’s nothing like a great film scene. When you’re sitting in the theatre and something happens onscreen to make you lean forward in your seat, or sit bolt upright, or cower into a fetal position, that’s what going to the movies is all about. In 2012, I experienced quite a few of those moments. Here they are, arranged in convenient order for your reading pleasure. Please note that while I won’t be going out of my way to include spoilers, the very fact that I am talking about impactful scenes within movies should suggest the kind of caution with which you might want to approach this list.

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VR BEST OF 2012 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. You have been warned, fanboys.
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Spoilers

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10. Sky Ball – Chronicle

Chronicle is a film with some pretty dark interpretations of the age-old “What would it be like if normal teenagers actually got superpowers?” question. Yet the most memorable scene of the movie for me was the joyous initial expression of physical freedom in which the three main characters engage soon after recieving their new telekinetic abilities. Once they learn to levitate themselves, the wonders of flight are shown in all their shackle-less glory through a wonderfully shot sequence culminating in a sky-high game of catch. It really feels like you’re there, thanks to the film’s “found footage” gimmick.

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Best of 2012: Top 10 Songs

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Merry Christmas people!

When I envisioned writing this year-end list way back at the start of 2012, I did not expect it to look like this. The amount of albums I did not pick up in 2012, that I fully expected to when I was looking forward to the year ahead, is a little embarrassing. I also barely touched the radio this year. Just about every mainstream airplay hit that I listened to came through dodgy work speakers and was repeated way too many times to allow me to appreciate. There was also that whole K-Pop thing. As a result of these factors, this list is being drawn from an alarmingly small pool.

Having said that, there were some real musical highlights for me in 2012 anyway. From upbeat tracks to soaring ballads, I did enjoy plenty of tunes throughout the year, and my top ten favourites follow. As I said in my first proper blog post on Vagrant Rant, however, the nature of music as a highly subjective thing probably makes this list the most personal of them all, so don’t expect too much common ground.

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VR BEST OF 2012 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. You have been warned, fanboys.
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10. Ladykiller – Maroon 5

Stuck in a pretty misfiring album, Ladykiler sees Maroon 5’s Adam Levine putting his trademark falsetto into overdrive to the steady, medium tempo beat of an unusually low-energy yet persistent song. The combination begets a surprisingly refreshing result. Overexposed tries many different things that stray from the classic Maroon 5 sound, and most don’t play out so well, but with Ladykiller the album strikes something worthwhile.

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