Posts Tagged ‘Opinion’

My 10 Favourite Reveals From E3 2015

And so another year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo has come and gone, and I have to say this one was a real peach. Despite an astonishing number of pre-show leaks, there were still some real megaton surprises on show, while known titles just got better and better in prospect. Here are my picks of the event.
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10. I Might Actually Be Into Fallout 4

I’m not a Western RPG guy. I’ve tried to get into them over the years, but for one reason or another, it just hasn’t happened. I knew Fallout was a big deal, but the hype around and New Vegas came at exactly the wrong time in my life. The extended gameplay reveal of Fallout 4 at Bethesda’s E3 press conference, however, has my interest well and truly piqued. The customisation options are off the charts, and man, those base building mechanics alone…


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9. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros Looks Fantastic

I’ve made no secret of my affection for Nintendo’s “Mario RPG” franchises on this blog in the past, so to see both of them merged into one incredibly crazy 3DS game is a bit of a treat to say the least. The opportunity for the kind of quirky, often hilarious banter both series are known for is clearly ripe. The game is coming this year, too, which is a very nice bonus even if there are so many games oh my goodness so many games TOO MANY GAMES TO PLAY.

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My Mario Kart 8 DLC Impressions, Round 2

I regret that this year’s guest blogging week had to be cut short by one day due to unforeseen circumstances, but I do want to take a brief moment thank all six wonderful contributors for their entertaining pieces. Moving on…

It’s official: Mario Kart 8 is now the biggest Mario Kart game to date. Say what you will, Battle Mode fans, but this week’s arrival of the highly anticipated second MK8 downloadable content pack announced last year means that the latest in Nintendo’s flagship racing series boasts more content than any entry before it. The game is now bursting at the seams with 48 painstakingly rendered tracks, along with 36 playable characters and a dizzying number of karts, bikes, ATVs and the like. Given the critical and commercial success of the last DLC pack, I wouldn’t be putting any money down on this being the last update, but we are at least now at the end of what we knew was coming, and there’s a sense of finality that comes with that.

So, much like I did for the first DLC pack last November, I thought I’d share my impressions of the new stuff. Everything you’re about to read has been scientifically tested by a small but lovable bunch of teenagers and twenty-somethings over an evening of, err, healthy competition.

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It’s Hard Out Here on a Mac

As we come towards the end of another guest week, storied tech enthusiast jonwestenberg touches on a very familiar topic for many.

—Written by jonwestenberg—

—Edited/formatted by Vagrantesque—

There’s a long established tradition that any kind of gaming is almost impossible when using what the kids (from the late 70’s) call an Apple Mackintosh Personal Computer. You’d be hard pressed to find any new release games that debut on Mac as well as for Windows PCs. The reasons for this are pretty varied; partly, it’s due to the wide spread dominance of Windows machines in the 90’s as the open platform was widely adopted by third party manufacturers, making the install base so much wider. Another reason is Apple’s walled garden that prevents users from upgrading or modifying their computers.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a history of Mac games development. If you’re a Halo user who hasn’t played the Bungie classic Marathon series, you’re missing out on an integral part of Halo’s development history, which is deeply rooted in that early, groundbreaking sci-fi shooter. However, it’s been a long time since Mac was a platform that supported real gaming.

As a gamer and a Mac user, I’ve been keeping an eye on Mac gaming over the past few years, and while it’s not as bleak as it once was, you’ll find that there are still enough obstacles to Mac gaming that it’s not entirely worth your while.

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A Borderlands Retrospective

Rolling on to the entertaining thoughts of tehdr4g0n, an accomplished medical practitioner with fiery opinions and a blog you can check out at the bottom of this page!

—Written by tehdr4g0n—

—Edited/formatted by Vagrantesque—

Before I begin this article in earnest, I’d like to thank Ryan for featuring me on his blog. In doing so, the man shows a remarkable degree of courage, considering my usual style. With this in mind, I’ve toned things down a little.

So, on to the actual content of the article. With the recent release of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, this seems as good a time as any to take a look at the Borderlands franchise as a whole. In other words, strap yourselves in because I’m about to talk about three Borderlands games, and various aspects of each. Full disclosure, I’m going to talk about my own experience and thoughts on each game, so there won’t be any philosophical discourse on this article. It’s just going to be my experience and opinion on each instalment in one of my favourite franchises of all time.

Borderlands

The original Borderlands game, released in 2009, was adventurous and different. For any whose memories of the time are hazy, this was the year of Uncharted 2; the auspicious first release of Dragon Age: Origins; James Cameron wowing the world with pretty trees and blue aliens in Avatar; and me curled in a little ball trying to ignore the calamity that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Yes, more stuff happened, no I’m not going to name them all. That was just off the top of my head.

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My Take on the Big Films of the 2015 Oscars

So now I’m caught up on this year’s Oscars, but rather than break down what I thought of every award like I’ve done in the past I’m going to quickly run down my thoughts on the handful of Oscar-nominated films I’ve actually seen, because I just need to put something to the keyboard before I can move on.

Serious movies, yay!

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Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Won: Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), Best Original Screenplay, Best Directing (Alejandro G. Inarittu), Best Picture
Nominated For: Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone)

I wouldn’t quite give my personal Best Picture nod to Birdman, but the sheer number of ways in which it tosses up a unique gimmick and nails it means I can hardly begrudge it the adulation it receives. The script is a tad pretentious, to be sure, but the movie does a lot of things very well, and any other winner in the Best Cinematography category would have been a tragedy. Emmanuel Lubezki, whose exemplary work in Gravity certainly did not go unnoticed, makes the film feel like it’s all one continuous take, and he does it extraordinarily well. I feel like the movie should have won some kind of audio award for its amazing improvised drumming soundtrack, and Edward Norton should count himself unlucky that he was in such a strong field for Supporting Actor.
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The Imitation Game

Won: Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated For: Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley), Best Directing (Morten Tyldum), Best Picture

A fascinating real life set-up provides the stage for everyone’s favourite Hollywood name to dominate the screen as genius social outcast Alan Turing, the man chiefly responsible for creating a machine capable of decoding the encrypted radio messages sent by the Nazis every day of the Second World War. The Imitation Game balances an exploration of the troubled man beneath the arrogant, awkward exterior of Turing and the grave task he and his team have to complete, all the while avoiding the temptation to run for too long. The script, however, is the real star, thoroughly deserving of its Oscar. From its hilarious opening interview to its heartfelt final conversation, the film is tight, concise and entertaining. I’m not sure why Knightley was nominated, though. She doesn’t get a whole lot to do.
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Whiplash

Won: Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons), Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing
Nominated For: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture

I only just watched the much-hyped Whiplash today, and it is indeed very, very good. J.K. Simmons’ monstrous turn as the short-tempered Draconian jazz teacher who torments a young drumming prodigy is well-deserving of his Oscar win, and indeed all the other awards he picked up for the role as well. Miles Teller, as said prodigy Andrew Neiman, gives one hell of an intense performance too, and his drumming, combined with some incredible award-winning editing by Tom Cross, lights the film on fire in the breathtaking final 15 minutes. Palpable tension permeates Whiplash, and its narrative is as unpredictable as Simmons’ venemous character. Great stuff.
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Interstellar

Won: Best Visual Effects
Nominated For: Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer)

This one is the least fresh in my mind, as I saw it when it was still in cinemas last year. To me Interstellar was disappointing enough to sneak onto the tail end of my Top 10 Disappointments list of 2014, not because it’s a bad film (it isn’t), or even a boring one (it isn’t), but because its uneven tone and frequently distracted shifts of focus make it seem a little out of place alongside Christopher Nolan’s excellent suite of individual films in the past, chief among them Memento, the Prestige and Inception. It does have strong visual effects, but I believe Rise of the Planet of the Apes was the more deserving nominee from that category.
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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Won: Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), Best Production Design, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Costume Design
Nominated For: Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Screenplay, Best Directing (Wes Anderson), Best Picture

This charming movie was released a very long time ago in Oscar terms, which renders its incredible nine nominations a little surprising, though nonetheless deserved. I only saw it last week, so the film is still vivid in my memory, and it is positively delightful. It would actually be my pick for Best Picture out of the Academy nominees, with Whiplash a close second. Its near-complete sweep of the major visual awards is hardly surprising, as its endlessly creative aesthetic is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Quirky, star-studded, memorably acted (particularly in the cases of Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum and the shape-shifting Tilda Swinton) as well as mercifully brief, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a Wes Anderson movie through-and-through, and you should definitely watch it.
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Big Hero 6

Won: Best Animated Feature Film

I just want to say that while I think How to Train Your Dragon 2 deserved this award more (It was my second favourite movie of last year, after all), I am still very happy about this. That’s all.

 

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Notable Nominees/Winners I Haven’t Seen at Time of Writing

The Theory of Everything

American Sniper

Boyhood

Still Alice

Selma

Foxcatcher

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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Why I like K-Pop

Yep, it’s out in the open.

And we might as well get the hipster stuff out of the way: I was, like, totally into it before Gangnam Style.

There comes a time in every person’s life, after the dramas of adolescence have been left behind, when he or she rediscovers things from his/her childhood that, once upon a time, seemed like the greatest thing in the world but eventually became “uncool” to like as a teenager. Without the self-conscious tinted glasses of that awkward period, the young adult is more able to appreciate those entertainment properties that, while aimed at kids, are actually put together well enough to warrant enjoyment once more.

Of course this doesn’t apply to everyone, but it is one explanation for the popularity of Disney movies, TV shows like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Adventure Time, as well as game series like Pokemon, among adult audiences.

While it isn’t directly analogous, a similar logic can be applied to explaining the relative Western popularity, or at least the inherent appeal, of a pop music phenomenon that is otherwise more than a little baffling. Of all non-English language musical outputs on the planet, none is enjoyed in quite as many countries as Korean pop or, as it is more commonly known, K-Pop.

Why? Well, for quite a few reasons, but few more prominent than the fact that at its core, it imitates a musical style that was popular when the young adults of today were kids.

Spice_brah

Man, I used to be obsessed with these girls.

Remember New Kids on the Block? Take That? Boyz II Men? The Backstreet Boys? N*Sync? Steps? The Spice Girls? S Club 7? God knows I do, and as it turns out, so does Korea. For some reason, after the early-to-mid ’90s had run their course and pop groups had fallen out of fashion in Britain and the United States, the fledgling Korean entertainment industry took their interpretation of the phenomenon and ran with it.

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