Gojira – Magma Review

In a departure from their usual style, Gojira’s 6th studio release ‘Magma’ is a very personal album dealing with concepts of grief and despair over the loss of a loved one. During the recording of this album vocalist and guitarist Joe Duplantier and drummer Mario Duplantier lost their mother and this had a profound effect on the mood and theme of the songs.

gojira-magma

Not only is the tone of their songs quite different from the previous work their sound has also changed quite a bit. Everything sounds stripped down, the guitars aren’t as harsh, the bass has a distorted muddy sound, the drum compositions are simpler and there are more instances of clean vocals. If you’re already a metal fan this may sound a bit off putting but all of the changes together really help with the concept of the album. The quality of the songs in no way suffer from the simpler instrumentation. No track feels out of place on the album and they all sound like they’ve had a lot of thought put into them.

 

The opening tracks of the album ‘Shooting Star’ and ‘Silvera’ really set the tone up front with heavy droning guitar riffs. The way the songs meander creates an otherworldly dreamlike feeling that really helps you get into the band’s head space. The main riff in ‘The Cell’ demonstrates this perfectly, the punching guitar and bass build an impressively oppressive sense of dread throughout the track.

 

The standout song for me is ‘Stranded’. The vocal performance during the chorus is amazing. You can really feel the emotion and the pain, Joe sounds like he’s singing for his life. Pouring every bit of his passion into it, especially when they change the key the last time around.

 

 

Some of Gojira’s more classic sound does come back for the later songs ‘Pray’ and ‘Only Pain’. Mario’s trademark double bass pedal drumming is back in full force here. It feels as if this is the band finding themselves a little amongst all the darkness as the album progresses. The lyrics in the song ‘Low Lands’ reads like a message to their mother and it’s heartbreaking. There’s a hopeful theme to this song and it has a strong ending riff that feels like the band is waking from a dream state, ready to tackle the future.

I will admit that it took me a few listens to really get into this album. It is a bit of a change in style from their previous albums which was a shock at first but it’s actually became one of my favourite metal albums of all time. You can tell it’s a deeply personal work of art right from the start, Gojira have expertly translated all the pain and emotion of grief into some of the greatest music of 2016.

 

★★★★★

Stardew Valley – PC Review

I don’t have that much of a history with farming games. I’ve tried the odd Harvest Moon game over the years and I am a fan of the Animal Crossing series but there’s never really been a farming game that held my interest for very long. Perhaps the living through the dark days of Farmville on Facebook soured me on the whole concept.

 

Farmville_Request

 

But Stardew Valley is nowhere near as insidious as a crappy Zynga Facebook game, it’s actually one of the most pleasant gaming experiences I’ve had in recent memory.

 

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In Stardew Valley your character starts out working a soul crushing office job for the evil Joja Mega Corporation. Just as your character is at their lowest they remember a letter they received from their grandfather informing you that you’ve inherited the family farm in the picturesque town of Stardew Valley. So you quit your office job and move out in the country to start your new life. You arrive late at night and only have time to chat to the mayor before you turn in. Once you wake up on the first day of spring this is where the game really begins.

 

The first thing you’ll notice is that the farm is a little bit of a dump. The ground is covered in rocks, grass, trees and fallen logs and you’ll have to clear a path so you can actually plant anything there. Luckily you start off with a full set of tools you’ll need which was the first pleasant surprise because usually you have to scrounge around for your tools in Animal Crossing and that’s always the most frustrating part. Every time you crack a rock or chop a tree down you also get resources like stone you can use for building, hay you can feed to your animals or tree sap you can craft into fertiliser.

 

This makes even the most mundane tasks fun because there’s an extremely satisfying pop sound every time you pick something up, it just feels so good. Speaking of sound the music in this game is great, every season has a slightly different theme but they’re all relaxing and very easy to get stuck in your head. One of the spring songs is so catchy I miss it when it changes to summer but it just gives me something to look forward to when spring comes back.

 

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Daily Grind

 

Once you get into a bit of routine most of your days will consist of getting up and watering/harvesting your crops then selling them so you can expand your farming operations. There isn’t really a set goal in the game, you’re pretty much free to make money however you want. You get some quests that will slowly introduce you to some of the different mechanics like building a coop for chickens or encouraging you to explore the landscape.

 

One of the things you’ll want to explore is an abandoned mine on the outside of the town. This is where you can get ores which you’ll need to upgrade your tools and to build some of the more complicated farm buildings and machines. You can find precious stones here too that you can donate to the museum for rewards or sell for some extra cash. This is also where the game becomes more of an rpg. There are monsters down there which you’ll need to take out before you can mine in peace and you can also equip your character with armor and better swords to make it easier. The deeper you go down in the mine the better the potential rewards can be so any items that speed up your spelunking adventures really help.

 

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Time Enough at Last

 

Almost every action you take in the game slowly drains your stamina meter, this means you won’t always be able to do everything you need to do in one day. Your character also can’t stay up past 2 am which I found out the hard way while exploring the mine. If you exhaust this meter or stay up too late all that happens is you wake up in the doctor’s office but they do charge you about 500 gold which at the start can be a bit steep.

 

You can easily use half of your energy just watering your plants in the morning so you really have to plan before you head off into the mines. You can take food with you to top yourself up but you don’t want to be eating too many crops either. Sometimes it can be a lot to think about but there aren’t really any strict time limits, you can keep playing forever because the year just loops.

 

One thing you do have to watch out for is the seasons because you’re spring crops will instantly fail if you haven’t harvested them when summer comes along. I got caught out by this on my first summer but it’s the kind of thing you’ll only mess up once. The game has a bit of a harsh learning curve at times, I do think they could have included some more tutorials as there can be a lot of trial and error when you first start out. There have been a few times when I’ve had to consult the Wikia just to figure out the basic game mechanics which I don’t particularly mind but it might put new gamers off.

 

stardew_valley_winter

 

Rancho Relaxo

 

The main thing that keeps me coming back to Stardew Valley is that it’s one of the most relaxing games I’ve ever played. Granted there can be a sense of urgency when you’re delving deep into the mines and it get’s a bit late but even then there isn’t much of a penalty if you mess anything up. The game lets you do everything on your own time which is great if you haven’t got the chance to play for hours on end. It also borders on addictive at times, I always find myself wanting to just do one more day which can often turn into about 20 more.

 

On it’s surface Stardew Valley seems like a simple game but there’s immense depth to be uncovered if you’re willing. It’s all the more impressive when you learn that this game was all made by 1 person (Developer Eric Barone). I really can’t recommend this game enough, its PC specs are so low almost any PC can run it and at the time of writing it was £10.99 on Steam so it’s definitely value for money.

 

★★★★★

The Visit (2015) Review

I love the found footage genre of horror films. In the days where we are constantly filming everything it gives these movies an unsettling and familiar visual style. But when done badly they can be utterly confusing barf fests that just leave people annoyed at the end of it. Luckily star director M. Night Shyamalan and the producers of Paranormal Activity have made something better than your standard Blair Witch knock off.

 

This review will contain some mild spoilers about plot moments

 

the visit poster

We start the movie being introduced to our main characters, the brother and sister team Becca and Tyler who will be our camera operators for most of the movie. One thing that struck me straight away was that these characters are impossibly quirky for real people. They do have some believable personal moments throughout but a lot of their dialogue just doesn’t seem right for their age. The basic premise is that they are going to stay with their grandparents for a week that they’ve never met before because their mother left home on very bad terms with them.

 

Becca is an aspiring filmmaker and wants to make a documentary so she can finally get the real story on why the family is estranged. She also hopes she can get some closure for her mother and maybe mend some bridges along the way. We get some fun moments during their train journey but we also get the first instance of the movie’s most cringey recurring joke, Tyler’s amateur rapping. I’m all for moments of comedy in horror films, it can provide much needed levity when things get tough to watch but this white kid’s rapping sucks. M. Night clearly thought this was hilarious for some reason because it’s revisited about 4 times.

 

So anyway the kids are greeted at the train station by their grandparents, referred to as Nana and Pop Pop for the rest of the movie. There is a general air of uneasiness at first but the kids put it down to everyone meeting each other for the first time. The kids bake cookies with Nana, get a tour of the house with Pop Pop and eventually settle in for the night. This is when Pop Pop tells the kids the one house rule “Bedtime here is 9:30. It’s probably best if you two shouldn’t come out of your room after that. See you in the morning”.

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What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse

About an hour later Becca decides she can probably sneak down to get some more cookies without disturbing anyone so sets out with her camera. As she starts going downstairs Nana walks into frame and starts projectile vomiting, understandably Becca freaks out and gets the hell out of there. Next morning she speaks to Pop Pop about it who explains is away as a 24 hour stomach bug. This is pretty much the format of the movie, it’s a lot like Paranormal Activity in that way. Each new day there’s a title card so you know how many days the kids have left to endure and most of the scary stuff happens at night. I like this day/night format because I can get all anxious and excited for what crazy stuff is going to happen that night, then you are relieved when you see it’s daytime again.

 

As you can imagine things escalate every night. Nana is extremely creepy, she runs around the house at night naked scratching at the walls and banging doors. I think at first you’re supposed to think she’s possessed but again Pop Pop explains this away as sundowning, which is a form of heightened dementia that sets in once the sun goes down. Deanna Dunagan who plays Nana is really impressive, the way she crawls around and growls with her hair over her face is horrifying and she’s scarily nimble for a 76 year old. It’s the kind of character that you don’t even want to look at but you can’t tear your eyes away because you want to know she’s going to do next.

Nana

What a Twist!

Knowing that this is an M. Night Shyamalan horror movie most people will be on the lookout for a plot twist. Disappointingly I did guess part of the twist while I was watching but it didn’t invalidate the rest of the movie for me, I still wanted to see how it all turned out.

 

This felt like a pretty personal project for M. Night, it has a really small cast of characters and I felt like Becca represented the young filmmaker in him. It also a much smaller movie than he’d been making recently and it has an incredible short cast list. I liked this aspect of it because you got to spend a lot of time with the important people and it gave him more time to linger on interpersonal moments when the movie needed it.

 

This movie really preyed on my fears of old people, it had some genuinely scary and unsettling moments. There were also some fairly disturbing moments involving an adult diaper which I’d like to forget. In contrast to the horror it also had some pretty effective moments of heart and introspection from the kids which work surprisingly well. I liked The Visit way more that I thought I would and while parts of it may have been formulaic I came away satisfied with the ending… until they had Tyler rap again over the credits!

★★★★☆

tyler rap

Tyler’s Rapping: ☆☆☆☆☆

 

Independence Day: Resurgence Review

I’m going to confess that I’m not really a fan of the first Independence Day movie. It definitely has it’s moments, I like the suspense they create before the aliens attack but as soon as everything starts blowing up I lose interest. Going into this movie I had really low expectations, I’d been hearing early review buzz and all signs were pointing to this being one of the worst movies of the summer. As it turns out going in with low expectations is probably the best way to experience Independence Day: Resurgence.

 

This review will contain story spoilers.

 

ID4 logo

 

Welcome to Earth

 

As the film opens we’re treated to a quick fly over of Washington DC so we can see how advanced civilization has came since the first movie. The people of 1996 who defeated the aliens in the last movie took their technology and used it to advance our own even going so far as to copy their landmark destroying weapons. As we pan over all the future things they replay Bill Pullman’s iconic Independence Day speech. We also learn that one of the ships that landed in 1996 has transmitted the recording of Pullman to all their buddies and now they’re really pissed off!

 

We follow a character into the white house with the camera behind him, he stops just outside the oval office to take in a gold framed painting on the wall. A painting of Steven Hiller AKA Will Smith who’s been killed between movies because he wouldn’t reprise his role. I burst out laughing at this because it just looks so goofy. They were clearly thought this would be a cool moment but it looks like a promotional image from the first movie.

 

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Just imagine a big fancy frame around this photo and you’re basically there.

 

It also turns out that this young man we’ve been following is Hiller’s son Dylan, who’s followed in his father’s footsteps and became an ace fighter pilot. They are trying to introduce some new blood into the franchise but the problem is that they don’t get rid of any of the old guys. They bring back pretty much everyone you care about: Ex-President Pullman is back with a beard this time, Jeff Goldblum is probably the closest you get to a main character here, the two weird scientists get to rekindle their relationship and Judd Hirsch even shows up to be a ridiculous cartoon character of a man.

 

Quietly out of the Night

 

This movie goes at breakneck speed throughout. There’s absolutely no suspense when the aliens show up after what feels like 15 mins. They just appear literally out of nowhere in a huge ship and make quick work of Earth’s puny defenses stationed on the moon. They say the ship is about 3000 miles long, so big that it has it’s own gravity. All the aliens need to do is fly over London and within seconds it’s completely destroyed under chunks of our own British hubris *drops monocle*.

 

To be honest though all the destruction and action scenes throughout were a bit lackluster in my opinion. These scenes would have been cool in 1997 but after all the crazy Michael Bay and Zack Snyder madness we’ve had since then you need to do more to impress jaded action movie fans.

 

id42 london

 

Gooey Center

 

So after landing their ship over the entire Northern Atlantic Ocean their uninspired plan is to drill a mile wide hole all the way down to the Earth’s core and extract all of our delicious liquid hot magma. Just like Dr. Evil’s plan in the first Austin Powers movie except our evil aliens aren’t concerned with getting 1 million dollars, just revenge.

 

One thing I was hoping for in this movie was a little bit more of the alien’s backstory but they didn’t deliver. You’ll notice I’m referring to them as the aliens a lot, that’s because they don’t even give us any other name for them. All they tell us is that they steal other planet’s resources to power their ships and that each mother ship has a (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) queen alien that controls all of the drone warriors. I don’t know if it’s just me but I need some back story for my villains so I can get invested in their plan.

 

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The Saga Begins

 

While the aliens are setting up their mining operation the humans uncover a mysterious orb that happens to be part of an advanced civilization that has been battling the jerk aliens for years now. So this is the moment that the franchise hooks really embed themselves. The scientists learn from the orb that there is a galactic refugee planet which is the only place safe from the jerk aliens (see, this is why they need a real name!) and this orb was coming to invite Earth to be a part of it so we could avoid destruction.

 

This was the only part of the movie that really interested me, Humans joining up with a bunch of weird good aliens to fight evil aliens sounds like a much better movie idea. However this revelation did devalue the movie for me because from then on all I could think about how I’d rather be watching the sequel. They out their own movie as simply a stepping stone about an hour before the end. This made the final battle feel really flat because we already knew that this alien queen is only the start of Earth’s battle.

 

So yeah, as you can imagine they blow up the queen seconds before the laser reaches the Earth’s core and the world is saved!…Except there’s now a mile wide hole in the middle of the Northern Atlantic Ocean that goes down most of the way to the core. Now I’m no scientist but I think that would cause a few problems for our little blue planet.

 

Movie: “Screw your pesky science, it’s Independence Day!”

 

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I could only recommend this movie as a rental, there’s just not enough substance here to warrant full ticket price. There is some fun to be had if you turn your brain off and just let the stupid one liners and explosions wash over you but it loses it’s charm if you start to think too deeply about it.

 

★★☆☆☆

 

The Top 5 Worst Video Game Music Tracks

Video game music can be a beautiful thing. Using relatively primitive hardware (by today’s standards) composers in the 80’s helped transport us to far off worlds and created some of the most recognisable tunes in gaming. 

However, in the wrong hands the sound chips of our old consoles can be used to create a cacophony worthy of a demon summoning. The silver lining of this is that most of these crappy games would have faded into obscurity if not for their ridiculous soundtracks and now they can live on forever in infamy.

5. Crazy Bus – Title Theme

Composer: ???

Information is very scarce about this “game”. All the internet seems to know about it is that it’s Venezuelan, was made in 2004 and is horrible in every way. Not only is the audio unlistenable but the visuals are a chore to look at too. The “game” consists of you picking a bus you’d like to drive which you can then move forwards and backwards on the screen while you listen to this rockin’ tune… and that’s about it.  

I don’t even know how to describe this track with words. It’s very possible that the notes have been chosen randomly because if someone actually composed this purposefully then that would actually be impressive. The reason this isn’t higher on my list is because it seems to have been created as a joke. There’s just no way something this repulsive could have been created unknowingly.

4. The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin – Swing Time 

Composer: Mr. Big

Yes, the masters of guitar wankery with the lovely hair themselves.

Mr. Big were apparently commissioned to write a song about Spider-Man. Problem is, whoever wrote the lyrics didn’t seem to know a lot about him. Sure they got in plenty of web analogies but I’ve never heard Spider-Man described as “Flying for justice” or that he “Takes no prisoners”. Apparently there’s no mercy from your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man kids!

Overall this is just a bad rock song, unless you love Mr. Big (does such a person exist?) this is just embarrassing to listen to. Once developers got hold of CD technology they probably thought this would sound really cool but all it actually does is make this game sound like a ridiculous 90s relic.

3. American Idol Gameboy Advance – Whole Soundtrack 

Composers: Various 

Now we’re getting into the good stuff. Just let that heavily compressed cover version of Jennifer Lopez’ “Waiting For Tonight” wash over you. Feel the off key auto tune penetrate your soul and gaze into the true face of fear!


I don’t know whose bright idea cramming a musical rhythm game onto a GBA cart was. If the music wasn’t so hilariously bad sounding you could even be a little impressed they managed to fit the whole game on there. Even if you perform the song flawlessly and don’t miss a note your monstrous singer still warbles aimlessly along with the backing track. This game fails in every way possible, unless they were trying to create the stupidest GBA game of all time.

2. The Adventures of Rad Gravity – Title Screen

Composer: David Warhol

I’ll admit I didn’t even know this game existed before I started researching this topic. I was happier in then. The Adventures of Rad Gravity is one of your run of the mill 2D platformers that sprung up after the success of Super Mario. You take control of Bruce Campbell wannabe Rad Gravity as he goes from planet to planet stabbing cyborg zombies and aliens with his off brand lightsaber. The game might be ok but you know what they say “you never get a second chance at a first impression” and Rad Gravity’s title screen music is just about the worst first impression in all of gaming.

The opening few seconds of this track are impressively bad. If anyone was ever curious what a descent into madness actually sounds like then I think this is the closest representation. The problem with this song is that it actually has a catchy rhythm underneath all the high pitched atonal nonsense, this is the part that infects you mind and will never go away. It…Just…Never…Stops….

The Chessmaster – Title Screen

Composer: Peter Stone


The Chessmaster theme is definitely in contention for one of the funniest songs ever created by the human race. It really is the crown jewel of bad video game music. It’s got everything: farting bass guitar, an atonal piano solo and drums that sound out of time which is almost impossible to do when you’re making digital music!

Chessmaster is exactly what it sounds like, a chess game. Can you imagine sitting down to a nice game of chess with a loved one accompanied to this track? Classical music would have been a better fit with the chess theme, not this experimental jazz-funk slop they came up with. Surely this song is some kind of joke by the developers and composer. I don’t believe that anyone could seriously create this and not be constantly laughing throughout the whole process. Even the eponymous Chessmaster himself looks pained by having to listen to this track.

 And I don’t blame him.

Gone Home Review – PS4

Do a cursory online search about this game and you’ll probably see a lot of forum threads asking if Gone Home can actually be classed as a video game. The gaming community has dismissively dubbed games of this nature “Walking Simulators” basically meaning it’s a game where you walk around an environment to experience a story. This is a unique type of storytelling that you can only be done in a video game, where the story can be uncovered in different ways depending on how you explore.

This review will contain general spoilers but I’ll try and keep it vague

In Gone Home you take control of Kaitlin Greenbriar as she returns home from a midnight flight in 1995. You arrive to find the house deserted and a mysterious note on the front door from your younger sister asking you not to go looking for answers. So of course my first instinct is to ignore this and start rummaging around for stuff! Along your way you’ll find handwritten notes all over the house which slowly drip feed you parts of the overall story. When you find an important piece of info you’re treated to a voice over from your sister Sam as she seems to have left you a trail of diary entries explaining what’s happened to her. 

Only 90s Kids Will Remember…

This game is awash with 90’s nostalgia, pretty much every object in the house can be picked up and examined. You’ll find cassette tapes, answering machines, old TVs, recordable VHS tapes labelled “X-Files – season 1”, Super Nintendo carts and lot’s of other innocuous household items young people won’t recognise. 

At it’s core Gone Home is a story of two young girls (your sister Sam and Lonnie) bonding over Street Fighter 2 and punk music and eventually falling in love. As you move through the house you find evidence of their cute moments together. You’ll hear about them going to a punk show together then shortly after you can find a tape of the band they were talking about which you can play in the many cassette players dotted around the house. One of my favourite parts was finding evidence of them making their own Riot Grrrl punk fanzine even showing how they glued together the front cover. This hit close to home for me because my parents met at a punk show in the 80s and punk cassette tapes, fanzines and Super Nintendo games were all things that could be found in my house growing up.

Parental Guidance 

On your travels you can also find out about their parents through notes and items. You can discover that your father is a struggling writer by finding letters back and forth with his publisher and later on coming across a depressingly large stack of his unsold books. You also find evidence that your mother has received a big promotion at her forestry job but later on Sam’s diary entries reference how distant she’s become as a result of her increasing workload. You’re not required to find out about the parents to progress the game but it really adds to your understanding of the story if you do seek it out.

It’s amazing how every piece of information you can find is connected. You’ll see something that seems unimportant like there’s a Skull ornament you can see in the foyer right at the start but you don’t find out until much later that this was the first gift Lonnie gave Sam after a trip to Mexico. Technically you could miss some of these connections too, I’m sure there’s a lot I missed on my first play through but that just makes it even more satisfying when you do link something together. 

I don’t really want to say anymore about the game because the story is best experienced for yourself. This is a pretty short game too, a normal playthrough seems to last about 2 hours depending on how thoroughly you search the house. I really enjoyed my playthrough and for me it’s been a game that has became more impressive the more I’ve been thinking about it. At the time of writing the PS4 version of Gone Home is free for PlayStation Plus subscribers till July 5th so if anything I’ve said interests you give it a download.

★★★★☆

Overwatch Review -PS4

Overwatch is a brand new game series from Blizzard, the makers of World of Warcraft. It’s an online multiplayer shooter where teams of 6 characters with different abilities fight it out over control of the map. I was completely unaware of what type of game Overwatch was and to be honest I think it was getting it mixed up with a few other similarly titled multiplayer games all announced at the same time (I blame you Battleborn and Paragon). Once it was out though I couldn’t get away from the unanimous praise all over social media so I knew it had to be something special.


The main mode in Overwatch is the online multiplayer, there are a few different objectives you’ll be randomly given during matches but it usually boils down to one team attacking while the other is defending. While defending your job is to either stop the enemy from taking over an area on the map or to stop them from escorting a vehicle through the level. Now this by itself is nothing special, lot’s of games have these mode but it’s Overwatch’s amazing cast of characters that are really impressive. 

You get 21 characters to chose from which is a bit daunting at first but they do try and make this easier for you by separating them into different classes. Offensive heroes will be familiar to most people, they’re your standard guys and gals with guns who’s focus is on taking out the enemy. Defensive heroes are still pretty good at taking people out but also have tools like traps or gun turrets to help the team out. A tank hero’s job is to absorb damage and generally distract the enemy so the rest of your team can move on the objective. The last category are support heroes whose job it is to heal or shield their teammates and are usually invaluable to a team’s success. The game does tell you if your team composition is lacking something before you start so you do get a chance to put it right (although people rarely pay attention). 


Heroes Never Die

Here’s a quick overview of the characters pictured from left to right above:


Genji
Is a robot ninja who excels at running round the map and surprising the enemy from behind. He can throw ninja stars, dash through people with his sword and even deflect most attacks back at his opponent. He can also run up walls and double jump letting him get to anywhere on the map.

Junkrat
Is an explosive specialist who has a grenade launcher to bombard the enemy team and also has bear traps and remote mines he can use to protect objectives when defending. His special move is a giant explosive tire that you drive around which can be devastating if the whole enemy team is close together.

Roadhog
Looks like he just came from the set of Mad Max and uses a hook on a chain you can use to reel in smaller heros an finish them off with his shotgun. He’s great for pulling snipers down off their perch where they can’t do much and he can also heal himself so doesn’t rely on any healers.

Mei
Uses her ice gun to either freeze opponents or snipe them from a distance with icicles. Her signature ability is that she can create a wall of ice which can be used to block the enemy or help protect an area.

Zarya
She can create barriers around herself and others which absorb damage and also increase the power of her own weapon. For her special she can also create a gravity well which can trap enemies in place making them easy picking.

Pharah
Is a pure attack character, she soars through the sky with her jetpack raining rockets down on anyone out in the open. The trade off to this is that she can’t take a lot of hits if you get the drop on her.

Tracer
Is another character like Genji who is meant to ambush unaware opponents. She can run rings around some of the slower characters thanks to her small size and ability to teleport. She also has the ability to rewind time for herself in case you zip off a ledge by mistake or want to further confuse your opponents.

Widowmaker
Is your standard sniper character, she can use a grappling hook to get up to good vantage points other characters can’t reach. She also has a poison mine to surprise people who’re trying to sneak up on you and her special attack reveals the enemies positions to the whole team.

D.Va
Is a really strange and fun character to use, in her default form she pilots a giant robot suit that can deal big damage up close and fly around the map with rocket boosters. Her special move is to self destruct her suit which deals a huge amount of damage over a wide area but leaves you on foot with only a handgun to protect you.

Torbjörn
Does what dwarfs do best, build contraptions. He can build an upgradable turret that will auto target enemies, this can be devastating if set up in the right place. He can also give his team mates extra armor to increase their overall health.

Reaper
With his double shotguns Reaper is an up close and personal character. He can teleport around the map to set up ambushes and if he finishes off an opponent he can collect a small amount of health to keep him going. His special is a barrage of shotgun blasts that is best used up you can warp into the middle of a group.

Mercy
The most straightforward healer in the game she has a beam that locks onto the nearest ally that refills their health. When playing her it’s best to hang back with the group so they can protect you if it gets rough. She can also boost the damage of an ally and her special can resurrect your fallen teammates.

Zenyatta
Another healer who doesn’t heal as much as Mercy but he can also weaken a single enemy at a time making them an easy kill. He also does a surprising amount of damage by himself but he’s not very durable and pretty slow moving.

Hanzo
Is another sniper type character who uses a bow and arrow to pick off his enemies. Like Genji he can also climb walls to find a good vantage point and is overall more stealthy than Widowmaker. The thing that sets Hanzo apart is his special move where he shoots a huge dragon out in front of him which pretty much kills everything in it’s path.

Reinhardt
A huge knight in a robo suit of armour who is an asset to any team. His big thing is he can generate a shield in front of himself which will block a lot of damage plus your teammates can shoot through it from behind. If he has to fight for himself he can rocket towards an enemy and pin them to a wall so they can be finished of with a swing of his giant hammer.

Winston
The super intelligent Gorilla who is one of the best characters for distracting the enemy. He has a jet powered jump which he can use to get in the middle of a group and make a general nuisance of himself. His special move Primal Rage refills your health and gives you new attacks that can knock enemies all over the place for a few seconds.

Symmetra
Is pretty unique as far as the support characters go, instead of healing she can put up shield on her allies. Her main use is to defend areas as she can place laser turrets on the floor or walls which slow enemies down and eventually drain their health is they don’t react in time. Her special is to create a teleporter so your team doesn’t have run as far from the respawn point.

Soldier 76
This guy is probably the easiest character to use. He’s your standard assault guy who has a laser rifle with grenade attachment. He can also heal himself and allies with his bubble shield making him even more beginner friendly.

Bastion
Is probably one of the most satisfying characters to play on defence. He’s basically a transformer who can bunker down and transform into a machine gun emplacement which does a lot of damage but can’t move around to dodge attacks. If you set up in the right spot you can stop an entire enemy team single handedly.

Lúcio
This guy attacks and heals people with the power of sound. This means that just by standing next to Lúcio you will be getting constant healing. He can use his sound gun to blast opponents away (or into pits if you’re lucky) so you can get away and hide behind more capable teammates. He can also switch from healing to a speed boost which is good for getting back into the action after a respawn.

McCree
Is a classic cowboy with a 6-shooter. He’s a good mid-range fighter as long as you’re accurate enough. If anyone gets close he has a flashbang he can use to stun enemies giving him a chance to unload and his special move lets him shoot everyone in his line of sight as long as they stay there long enough for you to lock on.

There’s No ‘I’ in Team

Overwatch is a really fun game, as I mentioned it can seem a bit intimidating at first because you’re going into a team game where other people are relying on you but the game will try and match you up with other beginner players. One of the more charming aspects of the game is the personality the characters have. They all have signature lines they spout whenever you activate you special attack or respawn after a defeat. One awesome thing I noticed is that sometimes at the start of a match while you’re all running to set up your defences the characters will chat to each other as you go. They also have plenty of unlockable outfits and colour swaps for the characters that you can get randomly out of loot boxes. You get a loot box containing 4 random cosmetic items each time you level up (or if you pay real cash) but the good stuff like costumes seem to appear very rarely.

The menus are really easy to navigate, you can be searching for a match with about 3 presses of the ‘X’ button but it also has plenty of in depth options if that’s something you want. I was particularly impressed by the amount of options it has for colorblind players like me. Since enemies and objectives are indicated by colour I was able to adjust the hue of these so I could tell the difference between the red and orange. There were many more colour options to chose from, if you want to change these colours completely depending on your needs. It’s nice to see a game be this colourblind friendly.

With the game’s main mode being online only this isn’t a game I could recommend to anyone who doesn’t have their PS4 connected online with PS+ because you’ll just be able to play matches against computer opponents. I don’t think that’s something you could play for a long time before getting bored.

This is the first online shooter I’ve gotten into since like 2010 for COD: Black Ops, I just felt like I couldn’t keep up with the kids who did nothing but play all day and I’d usually just die over and over. The great thing about Overwatch is that if you’re not very good at shooting dudes you can play a support or tank class instead. Having a Mercy keeping the team healthy or a Reinhardt shielding everyone can really change the tide of battle. I found myself gravitating towards Mercy if no one else is playing her, I’ve never played a healer in games before but I’ve been loving it. There’s no pressure to be killing other players but it’s still exciting trying to keep everyone alive. Plus watching your team’s health bars fill up is oddly satisfying. There is also no penalty for losing so if your team is defeated there’s no need to dwell, just try harder next time.

I genuinely think that as long as you are at least competent with first person games you could have some fun with Overwatch. Blizzard have made this game user friendly and as simple possible to play but there is still plenty of depth and advanced strategies for those who want to seek it out. I’ve loved every minute of this game so far (even being on the losing team) and honestly I can’t wait to go play some more.

★★★★★

Why You Should Be Watching Supergirl

When I first heard there was a Supergirl TV show in the works I was skeptical. Supergirl has never really held her own as a solo comic book character. Her comic series tend to get cancelled quite a lot but she’s a popular character when she shows up in ensemble books so it’s surprising they took a risk on a high budget solo series for her. I’m really glad they did though because it’s one of my favourite TV shows on right now and here are some reasons you should be watching too.


They’ve Started Their Own Continuity

In the show Kara Zor-El is the cousin of Superman who was sent to watch over him on earth when he was a baby. However, something went wrong and she was lost in time for a while meaning when she arrived Clark had been there for 20+ years and he didn’t need her protection anymore. Her comic origin is a much more ridiculous and complicated story involving a shrunken city in a bottle (Yes really) so I can understand why they went with their own version. This leaves them free to develop their own universe without all the baggage Superman brings with him. He still exists in their world but they keep National City pretty separate from Metropolis. They have also inserted Supergirl into some classic Superman storylines and situations. Surprisingly they’ve picked a lot of the more “out there” stories and characters to deal with in their first season. The greater DC universe is filled with aliens but this is the first live action thing to even mention them outside of Kryptonians. 

It Respects The Source Material 

Now this is not to be confused with being overly serious about your story like Batman Begins or Man of Steel. In my opinion trying to make everything gritty and down to earth loses the very thing that makes comics so great. They’re fantastical, you routinely see things that could never happen in the real world. For some reason TV and movie execs used to think people weren’t ready to accept the wonderfully stupid world of comics. Thanks to shows like Supergirl, Flash, Arrow and the Marvel movies they’re starting to realise that there are literally decades of amazing storylines just waiting to be adapted. 

Supergirl embraces it’s silly history, it’s not afraid to put bad guys and heroes in their actual costumes with their original origins. They’ve done what many people have tried and failed to do (looking at you Zack Snyder) over the years and made Superman’s villains interesting in live action form. It’s been a complete breath of fresh air not having them rehash the same old Lex Luthor crap every other Superman movie and show seems obsessed with. Supergirl has been working her way through an interesting mix of costumed aliens, robots and meta-humans. She’s teamed up with the Martian Manhunter, had her DNA stolen to create a Bizarro Supergirl and even wrestled with a mind controlling alien plant in an awesome re imagining of the “For The Man Who Has Everything” comic storyline. These are all the types of things comic fans have wanted to see Superman do for years but no one’s had the guts to do it outside of cartoons.

It’s Full of Positive Characters


One thing that immediately stands out about DC’s TV shows is that the main character is always surrounded by an incredibly supportive group. They really emphasize the value of friendship and working together. I think it’s important for younger fans to have these kind of positive heroes as role models. Too many young DC fans are going to grow up having only watched the misguided movies from Zack Snyder and thinking that these worst versions of DC Superheroes are the norm.

Supergirl is also one of the few powered female superheroes we have on film right now. She flies around going toe to toe with super powered aliens, regularly saves her male friends from danger and they don’t make a big deal out of it. James Olsen doesn’t sulk because he’s been emasculated or make a joke about being saved by a girl, he thanks her for her help and they go on being friends. She also has a much less overtly sexualised costume compared to her comic counterpart, her friend Winn makes her a less practical outfit in the first episode but Kara promptly rejects it.

It’s About To Become Part of a Bigger Universe 

They recently aired an episode where The Flash made a cameo appearance on Supergirl because the parent company CBS owns them both. The set up for the episode was that Flash accidently creates an interdimensional portal and ends up stranded on Supergirl’s Earth. This was such a good reward for long term fans of both series. Seeing Flash and Supergirl excitedly geeking out about each other’s universe had me grinning ear to ear the whole time and it’s actually the thing that inspired me to write this post. That’s what fans want to see when superheroes meet up, we want them to be friends and to help each other. Not try to murder each other (Looking at you again Snyder). 

We didn’t know at the time this episode was announced but it was actually the start of something bigger. Season 2 of Supergirl is moving channels in the US and will be joining The Flash and Arrow on The CW channel. This will mean that they’re free to cross them over whenever they want. If there’s anything comic fans love it’s a good crossover and I’m so excited to see what happens when the three tv shows are finally allowed to meet up. 

The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone PS4 Review

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is an incredible game by itself. It’s also a very big game, you could easily spend 100 hours playing and still have more to do. I think this is the reason it took me so long to get round to playing the Hearts of Stone expansion, I was all Witchered out. But I’m glad I finally did because itwasn’t long before I was reminded why I love this series so much.

It’s worth noting up front that to even play this downloadable expansion they recommend that you’re level 32 which is pretty close to end game. There will also be general spoilers for the Hearts of Stone quests in this review.

Once again we take control of Geralt of Rivia, resident monster hunter and all around problem solver of this world. He takes on a seemingly innocuous contract to slay a monster in the sewers. This ends up being a pretty annoying boss fight that turns south and ends up with Geralt imprisoned on ship destined for a far away land to be executed. This is where the real story begins, a mysterious man appears and offers Geralt a way off the ship if he in turn helps this disturbingly sinister man out with his problems. 

A Witcher Always Repays His Debt

You’re tasked with fulfilling 3 requests to repay your debt that take you all over the surrounding countryside of Novigrad. They haven’t added any new landmass for you to explore in this update, instead they made good use of some areas that you wouldn’t visit during a normal play through of the main game. This meant a lot of the areas felt new even though they technically weren’t.

The first quest I embarked on was to show Vlodimir Von Everec one last night on the town, sounds simple enough right? Well it turns out that he’s been dead for quite a while. You end up having to go and resurrect him from their family crypt and let him possess your body so he can go and attend a wedding party. This leads to some great comedic moments where Vlodimir is being his outgoing, womanising self in Geralt’s body which is a complete contrast to his regular stoic personality. This is a great example of how the Witcher subverts your expectation that it’s just another stuffy, self serious high fantasy game and shows that it’s not afraid to get completely ridiculous and light hearted from time to time. 


The next task I embarked on was to retrieve some important documents from an auction house. The owner was less than cooperative so you end up planning a heist mission to get into the auction house’s vault. You even get a choice of which specialists you recruit to breach the vault door and scale the building. I love situations like this where they insert modern story concepts into the fantasy world of the Witcher.

Geralt’s Choice

The final task culminates in a sort of twisted retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story, giving you a glimpse of everyone’s dark past. There are some tough choices for you to make along the way influencing whether certain characters live or die. The most important of these giving you a time limit when deciding your answer just to ratchet up the intensity one more notch. 


Other than these story missions (which can take around 10 hours to complete) they do add in a few extra bits and pieces. There’s a new weapon and armour enchanter who can add unique upgrades to your equipment. A snazzy new all black suit of Witcher armor to collect throughout the quests. They do add a new Witcher contract too where you have to try and find someone’s lost friend but it seemed very uneventful, unless I messed it up in some way and missed something (which I have done before).

Overall I really enjoyed this expansion, it doesn’t really fix any of the problems people had with the base game. The item system is still a bit clunky to navigate and the game can still slow down and stutter if there are lots of enemies on screen. They’ve said they would try and make some more improvements to the performance of the game this month when they release the next expansion though. If you were like me and not sure if you were ready to come back to the game I would definitely recommend it just for the new quests alone.

★★★★☆

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Review 

Rating 12, Runtime 100 minutes

In 2007 Michael Bay broke my heart with the release of Transformers. He took characters that I’d been in love with since I was a child and turned them into unrecognisable walking piles of scrap metal. So when I heard he was going to tackle the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles next what was left of my inner child’s heart sank again, so I just ignored it. Then I see an announcement for a sequel and that they’re adding Rocksteady, Bebop and Krang who’re my 3 favourite TMNT characters. I just had to know, everything in the universe was telling me not to watch this movie but I did and guess what? I liked it.

TMNT Begins

As you can probably imagine I was watching this movie with a very critical eye, trying to find faults. I was initially worried they were trying to do a gritty reboot and in doing so would lose TMNT’s charm. The first warning bells started going off when I saw this movies version of The Foot Clan. Instead of ninjas they’re more of a masked private army with assault rifles and grenades. They probably thought people weren’t ready to accept a criminal ninja group in a realistic setting (luckily that didn’t stop the guys over at Netflix’s Daredevil).

We get our first glimpse of a Ninja Turtle at the docks as a bunch of armed thugs are taken out 1 by one by a shadowy figure amongst a bunch of shipping containers (just like Batman Begins). This is witnessed by junior reporter April O’neil (Megan Fox) who’s the only one in town trying to get evidence on the evil ninja gang apparently. She’s followed around by Vernon played by Will Arnett doing a low key Gob Bluth impression. She eventually meets the turtles on a rooftop as they celebrate successfully stopping our heavily armoured Foot Clan again but she faints once she realises what she’s looking at.

The turtles look hideous, which I think is great. Honestly that’s what I would expect a bunch of mutants who grew up in a sewer to look like. Their individual characters were pretty much spot on too. Leonardo leads the group as he always did and tries to enforce Splinter’s (the turtle’s radical rat father) teachings. Donatello is the tech nerd of the group, he does machines and helps them with any computer problems they face. Raphael is cool but crude (gimmie a break), he’s the tough guy who always wants to run headlong into battle and is constantly butting heads with Leo. Lastly we have Michelangelo the resident party dude, he’s the baby of the group and is usually more concerned with cracking jokes and eating pizza than fighting. One thing that weirded me out was that Michelangelo was always trying to hit on April. It would have been fine as a throw away line here or there but he just didn’t let up, even in the face of grave danger the bad pickup lines just kept coming.

Turtle Soup

Speaking of danger, we do have a classic TMNT villain in this movie too. The Shredder!

And he’s got a giant robot suit made of knives! This was another part that worried me about this movie when I saw early pictures. He kinda does look like a Transformer but in the actual movie he’s pretty terrifying. There were actually times I thought he was going to murder Splinter, some of the fight scenes were pretty brutal which I wasn’t really a fan of. I get that they want to create suspense and real life consequences but I didn’t ever want to see Splinter get beaten half to death or see Shredder step on Raph so hard that his shell starts to crack.

For the next movie I hope they let us see a bit of Shredder’s more goofy side that we saw in the 80s cartoon. Krang and Shredder were great together, they would bicker like an old married couple that were stuck with each other forever. Shredder does actually say his classic “Tonight I dine on turtle soup” line but it’s in Japanese and without a hint of levity.


Out of the Shadows

I genuinely liked this movie, it was by no means perfect and you won’t see any oscar worthy performances here but there is some fun to be had. The fight choreography was pretty good as well, the highlight for me being when Splinter got involved, never has he looked so cool beating people up and using his rat tail to throw people around.

I can only hope that this movie was them getting all their semi-serious backstory out of the way so they can focus on stupid fun in the sequel. I want to see all the dumb stuff from the cartoon in live action: Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang and his robot suit that looks like a giant baby with sunglasses, Baxter Stockman as a mutant fly, Casey Jones, alien triceratops people, mouser robots, the turtle blimp, mutant pizza monsters, the Technodrome and anything else they’ve got the rights to. 

★★★☆☆