Month: December 2015

Dying Light PS4 review – Brain dead

Dying Light PS4 review – Brain dead

Dying Light is yet another game I can add to the ever growing pile of games I really wanted to like. The demo on PSN was fantastic, and I was drawn into this beautiful hell that Techland had created. The demo was an hour long excursion into Harran, a city decimated by the zombie virus that has broken out. Techland wisely didn’t include much side missions, and for good reason; but i’ll get into that later. There is so much this game did right, but for everything it nails, there are 2 or more that were a letdown.

Story

You are Kyle Crane, an employee of the GRE, or Global Relief Effort. This company is pretty self-explanatory, and goes around the world helping others who are trapped by volatile circumstances. What follows is at first engaging, but eventually becomes a cliched, forgettable story of mediocre relationships and passion fueled redemption. The main story is just good enough to keep you going, but completely falls apart in the last 1/3 of the game.

To add insult to injury, the final boss fight was one of the worst I have played in recent memory. It was frustrating, and threw in horribly timed QTE’s that not only felt out of place, but it felt like a lazy decision to make things seem more dramatic. The story just gets silly near the end, and I could not wait for this game to finish. The side missions that the game throws in are one of the worst I have ever seen, and the laziness of the developers really starts to show here. They are not only numerous, but involve the typical side mission tropes. Go here, retrieve/kill that, rinse wash repeat. You’ve done it all before, and not even playing these in online co-op could remedy this.

Visuals

Dying Light nailed the visuals here. Everything besides the character models are top notch, and the game is drop dead gorgeous, and ran with no hitches whatsoever. This game was very stable throughout, and had no bugs at all. The gameplay felt very smooth, and doing parkour around the city had a great feel to it. The zombies all looked amazing, and each location comes to life.

I would’ve liked a bit more variety in the environments, as they do get old after a while. Eventually you get tired of going through tunnels, slums and whatnot. I don’t know why the character models look so bad, they are just kind of…..off. They just aren’t on the same level that the rest of the game is, and they stand out because of that. They needed a lot more work and it shows. The weapons and the executions all were very nice looking, but once again a bit more variety here would’ve been nice. Techland’s last game, Dead Island, had a bit more variety in the weapon crafting, and that is missed here.

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Gameplay

I’ve found some nails, I got a blueprint, and a mean looking sicle. Time to make a death machine am I right? Well…you can. But only for a limited time. This mechanic makes the game feel extremely tedious after a while, as you can’t really get attached to any one weapon. Everything breaks eventually, and has only a certain amount of repairs. While this may sound realistic, it doesn’t make for an interesting game mechanic. A lot of the fun I had from the first Dead Island was doing some quests until I found a blueprint for an awesome sounding weapon, and then I would get to stick with it for a while. That is sorely missed here, and while it does add a degree of difficulty to the game, it gets pretty freaking annoying after a while.

Another big selling point of the game that I was looking forward to was online co-op. It ended up being a minor diversion more than anything else, and I didn’t really care much for it. Sure, it’s nice to have some people around, but if I want to complete my mission instead of getting distracted fighting random zombies and attracting a horde then it just feels sort of weird. Most of the time you can only fight a small amount of zombies, because once more than a few start coming, you are pretty  much screwed.

Also fighting at night was a joke. The “volatile” or buffed up zombies were so insanely hard to kill, that it just stopped being fun after a bit. You combine that with the fact that you can’t see much, there are many patrols, and everything is stronger, and It just wasn’t very fun. I usually skipped doing missions at night if I could, it wasn’t worth e extra xp I got from it. 

The weapons and combat are fine, but they never get beyond that. Sure, there are some nice slo-mo moments where you get a breath of fresh air as you whack a helpless walker in the face, but those moments get old pretty fast. Once you get past that initial rush, there just isn’t much here. The guns are ok, but make so much noise that they aren’t worth the trouble unless you are fighting humans.

This is a difficult game, but if you stick with it, Dying Light becomes a bit easier, but not any more satisfying. There is an overwhelming sense of laziness that permeates the whole game and not only led me to skip most of the side missions, but led me to want to speed through the main story and get done with it already.

Verdict

Overall, this game is a huge disappointment. Many would say it’s what Dead Island should have been, but it’s too little too late. I wanted to like this game so much, but it ended up being an exercise in tedium. Skip it if you can, and maybe find some other outlet to fuel your zombie desires. This isn’t it.

Score: 5.5/10

 http://youtu.be/9IM3YE0BZuo

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Spectre Review – A mixed bag

Spectre Review – A mixed bag

Starring Daniel Craig and Cristoph Waltz; Directed by Sam Mendes

PG-13, 2.5 hours, **No Spoilers**

I’m not going to lie, I had high expectations going into Spectre, but after the flawed gem that was Skyfall, how could you not? What was advertised as Daniel Craig’s and Sam Mendes’ final bond movie, with Cristoph Waltz as the villian and Monica Belucci as one of the bond girls somehow managed to disappoint on all fronts and instead becomes a hard movie to recommend and one that should be watched as a passable action movie instead of a legitimate entry in the 007 franchise.

Well, what did Spectre get right? The opening sequence was fantastic, with an intricate day of the dead scene, and some of the effects were pretty well done throughout. As soon as the action heats up though, the film falls apart and as you watch it, Spectre starts to collapse under it’s own ambition. The cinematography feels like it should, but the script is something that would fit better in a direct-to DVD action movie than a theatrical release.

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One thing I have to give this movie is how consistently bad it is. The humor falls flat (and feels very out of place overall), the characters are underused, and Bond is very hard to like here. Christoph Waltz and Monica Belucci acted like they were going through the motions, and didn’t get much screen time at all. Belucci literally shows up for only one sequence, and is then forgotten. Bond manages to also be a manipulative asshole to her in a scene that was very awkward and hard to watch. Waltz also should of had a bigger role here. He spent most of the film shrouded in darkness, behind a desk or behind a window. He felt more like a toned down Joker than anything else, and was by far the most disappointing aspect of Spectre. I was looking forward to seeing him really go off a la Inglorious Bastards, but it was pretty forgettable.

The three bond girls in total are such a letdown as well. They all fit nicely into the cliches we’ve come to expect from a generic action movie, and aren’t given enough respect to be looked at as strong women. The first two are literally in Spectre for one scene, and the last one was in constant need of saving which I just found boring more than anything else.

Verdict

Overall, Spectre is just a huge waste of time. The story panders and while it offers some interesting tidbits to keep you going and some ok twists it’s not enough to distract the viewer from feeling like they’ve seen it all before. I enjoyed Kingsman: The secret service much more than I did Spectre. It’s a similar movie, but it knew what it wanted to be, Spectre just feels aimless and it’s a very poor way to end Craigs’ and Mendes’ collaboration. It should be interesting to see how the franchise is handled in new hands down the line, but the 007 franchise needs a break for a while.

Score: 6/10

The Bastard Executioner Review – A bloody tale

The Bastard Executioner Review – A bloody tale

TV-MA, 1 hr episodes, FX

Created by Kurt Sutter, Starring Lee Jones and Katey Segal

I was pretty stoked for The Bastard Executioner, and for good reason. This is Kurt Sutter’s highly anticipated TV show coming hot of the heels of a disjointed, but very good Sons of Anarchy TV show and the thrilling Southpaw. The short ads for this show also showcased stunning vistas and intense battles with bloodshed aplenty.

Bastard is a show that knows it audience. That audience is one that wishes Game of Thrones was on, but has to wait until April. So in the meantime, we get this medieval show.  The plot was fairly interesting, and it just enough so to keep you hooked, but not so confusing that you didn’t know what was going on.

The star of the show here is Wilkin Brattle (Jones) who after a stroke of luck, survives an epic battle and comes into contact with a witch/healer of sorts, Annora of the Alders (Segal) who gives him a scar that is similar to an executioner that was in the battle and did not survive. Brattle then takes that identity, and travels to find somewhere to settle down and figure out what to do next. His family, along with his friends’ have been slaughtered and he pretty much has nothing. He doesn’t travel long before he comes to a Baron’s castle and has to execute the one man that still knows his former identity from the battle. Thus is the basis for the show, and we spend most of the next 10 episodes here.

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Bastard gets the essentials right for an ultraviolent show like this. Before I continue, let me stress that this show is extremely violent. I really can’t stress that enough. It pushes the boundaries of what you think can be shown on TV and is definitely not for the squeamish. That aside, it’s very well done. It all looks and sounds very real, and the camera sometimes gets uncomfortably close. Just like in Game of Thrones, there are many people who do horrible things to others just to get by or fuel their own fires. Some characters do come full circle and learn from their wrongdoings, which did give the show some humanity and helped it feel less bleak.

The cinematography is also fantastic, and showcases some stunning landscapes and was shot in Wales, UK. This show isn’t extremely action packed, but when things do heat up the battle sequences are breathtaking, and definitely worth the watch just for those. Beyond that, the story was pretty solid, the characters were very relatable and the show doesn’t overstay it’s welcome with a perfect 10 episodes. So what went wrong?

Well, I have to address the elephant in the room here; and i’m referring to Katey Segal. She is by far the weakest part of the show, and her accent was atrocious. It just came off as a poor idea that they stuck with for some reason, and the intro music wasn’t very fitting as well. I would usually just skip through it. Segal was extremely miscast, and it’s a shame because if they had gotten a little younger character that doesn’t hail from the USA.

Besides that, there is some serious pacing issues. After some episodes I was asking myself: “Well, it didn’t seem like much happened here, but i’m still intrigued to see what happens.” It felt like these episodes were just a trail to the next one, but luckily there were just a couple of them.

Verdict

So ultimately, this is a show that fills in the gap between now and April 2016 for Game of Thrones. It’s a decent, violent medieval show that gets a few things right, but ultimately it wasn’t enough, as the show is not getting renewed for a second season. As it stands though, there are a satisfying 10 episodes here to get through, and the finale does wrap up a lot of loose ends. Bastard is just interesting enough to keep you going, but it’s not nearly the experience that Sons of Anarchy or Southpaw managed to achieve.

Score: 6.5/10