Archive for November, 2014

Album Review: 1989 – Taylor Swift

I’ve been listening to this one for over a month now, and I’m about ready to call it pretty damn awesome.

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Released:
 October 2014
Label:
Big Machine
Genre: Pop
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TRACK LISTING

1. Welcome to New York
2. Blank Space
3. Style
4. Out of the Woods
5. All You Had to Do Was Stay
6. Shake It Off
7. I Wish You Would
8. Bad Blood
9. Wildest Dreams
10. How You Get the Girl
11. This Love
12. I Know Places
13. Clean
14. Wonderland (Deluxe only)
15. You Are In Love (Deluxe only)
16. New Romantics (Deluxe only)

I used to be really, really apathetic about Taylor Swift. For a long time I, like many people around the world today, barely batted an eyelid at a new single or album release from the Nashville-raised countrified pop star. I’m not exactly sure when that opinion started to change, though I know it probably had a lot to do with her refreshingly down-to-earth, highly entertaining public interviews with Ellen DeGeneres. Then in late 2012, Red happened. An album that seemed impossible to avoid, Red represented a tangible departure from Swift’s country roots, pushing towards a more universally appealing sound. I let my curiosity get the better of me, bought it, and didn’t look back. Aside from its perhaps overindulgent length, the album was very hard to fault, and it was quickly deemed a modern classic by critics and fans alike. I kinda liked it too, so when the talented singer-songwriter announced an album with my birth year stamped on the front cover earlier this year, I was instantly hyped. The album promised a sound that borrowed liberally from late-1980s synth pop, and that it most certainly does. Yet 1989 still feels like a worthy successor to RedIt’s not as good, but it’s still a really enjoyable listen over and over again.

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Movie Review: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1

Have I missed my window to see Interstellar? No, surely not. I will make time. Meanwhile, check out yet another 2014 blockbuster in pretty damn good form:

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Starring:
Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore
Director:
Francis Lawrence (Constantine, I am Legend)
Rating: M
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So here we are, dear friends, embroiled in the hype of yet another young adult novel film adaptation that has been arbitrarily split into more movies than there were books, all in the name of making more money from fans. Like Harry Potter and Twilight in days gone past, as well as the Divergent series in the near future, Suzanne Collins‘ Hunger Games novel trilogy is now a quadrilogy because of reasons, and as usual, it’s the final book that has copped the razor. Given this phenomenon, it will surprise absolutely no-one that the inherently incomplete Mockingjay Part 1 is the weakest film in the series thus far. Yet the things it accomplishes are so impressive and so on-point with Collins‘ original narrative vision that I have to recommend it to pretty much all fans of the series anyway.

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Little Big Idea – Playstation TV Review

Given what happened last year, I certainly didn’t think I’d have any new pieces of gaming hardware to review in 2014. But now I’m getting two in the space of a week! Here’s the first, which hit Australian shores on November 14th.

PSTV_Topshot

“What the hell is a Playstation TV?”

There’s a question I’ve already been asked a few times. If you’re reading this, you may be asking it yourself. And there are millions of gamers and non-gamers alike who will be asking it over the next several months. It’s a question that is actually really easy to answer, but Sony’s marketing slant on the device has muddied the waters quite a bit, to the point that you’d be forgiven for thinking they themselves didn’t actually know what it’s capable of.

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My Mario Kart 8 DLC Impressions

Yesterday, Nintendo entered a brave new world – one in which for the first time in their history, they have a Mario Kart game with additional tracks as paid DLC. Thanks to the largely unprecedented Nintendo move of adding substantial downloadable content to Mario Kart 8, fans now have an extremely enticing incentive to jump back into the game almost six months after it launched. For $10 AU (technically $8 if you buy the pack with the upcoming May DLC as well), three new characters, four new karts and eight new tracks are available for you to download at your leisure. Last night I brought some friends over to try out the new content, and here’s what I think:

Nintendo, this is the reason I love you.

It’s certainly weird to think of the Big N as a company peddling DLC, especially given how long they’ve gone without it in a general gaming environment that is positively rife with the stuff. But surely, this is downloadable content done right. This first pack is alarmingly cheap for what you get, and it’s extremely evident that a lot of design work has gone into it. Though I’m not really all that fussed about the new characters (Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach and Link from The Legend of Zelda series) or the new Karts (The classic B-Dasher, the Blue Falcon from F-Zero, the bulky new off-road Tanooki Kart and Link’s matching Master Cycle) , the detail that has gone into their design is fitting of Nintendo’s reputation. Link makes his trademark angry yell noises during hectic races and waves his sword around during tricks, for example, while Tanooki Mario’s horn sound will be familiar to anyone who grew up with Super Mario Bros 3. The real value for money, of course, is in the eight fresh tracks, and boy do they deliver.

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Movie Review: John Wick

Any Keanu fans in the house?

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Starring:
Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Willem Defoe
Director:
Chad Stahelski (New)
Rating: MA15+
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Say what you will about Keanu Reeves, but there is one kind of role he does really, even spectacularly, well. When he’s on a screen, not saying anything, dropping villains and acting like a general badass, there are few who can match his magnetism. That’s what helps make his latest film, John Wick, one of the most surprising movie outings of the year, but it isn’t what makes it an instant recommendation from yours truly if you enjoy action. No, what makes it so good is its astonishingly effective commitment to world building within a short time frame. If you enjoyed Liam Neeson‘s Taken but wished every one-man-army action movie since its release hadn’t felt exactly the same, you need to go see John Wick.

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The Home Stretch, 2014

I’m not going to lie – it’s been very difficult to get any sort of blogging done lately. With my new employment situation piling up on top of my other commitments, my personal posting goal for 2014 looks further and further away. I will still do my best to get there, and there’s a big series of end-of-year countdowns coming as per usual, but there are many obstacles in the way right now. Not to mention ALL THE GAMES that keep releasing, a significant percentage of which I feel compelled to purchase for some reason. At last count, I believe I’ve bought nine games since I finished up with Destiny in late September, some of which I haven’t even played, and none of which I’ve even been close to finishing. And I’m not even done. Leaving all semblance of common sense behind, I’m still excited to grab the following ten gaming items before the end of the year:

This is consumerist irresponsibility at its very best, folks.

Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.32 – Will the Real Deku Scrub Please Stand Up


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There is just too much to talk about on the latest episode of the Mega Ultra Blast Cast, as we drown in news and a flood of videogame releases. In MUBC 32 we talk dog vacations, Overwatch, the secret link between Crash Bandicoot and Majora’s Mask, the latest Nintendo Direct, Shane’s obsession with The Binding of Isaac Rebirth, John Wick and Delaney’s poorly conceived plans. We also argue at length about Freedom Wars, discuss whether the Amiibo range has shown enough to impress us and hurl insults at each other as per usual.

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive, jazz up your afternoon commute or just curl up on the couch and play some games while you listen to the opinions of three busy Sydneysiders.

You can play the whole episode right off this page if you like:


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Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-32-will-the-real-deku-scrub-please-stand-up

(To download and listen offline, follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends – Until next time!