“Kingdom Hearts- A Game Review”- A Guest Post

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days: The Review
By Alex Thompson

(Don’t forget that anybody can submit pieces of writing for the Friday Guest Post feature!)

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days was the second time the series has been on a hand hold console five years after releasing Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories on the Nintendo Gameboy.

The game takes place towards the end of the first Kingdom Hearts game and continues through 2 sequels those being chain of memories and the beginning of Kingdom Heart two. We play though the game as Roxas- a confused teenager with no memories while wielding the legendary weapon-the keyblade. Roxas isn’t a new character to the series as we saw and played as him in kingdom hearts two. In this game we learn more about Roxas and his life while in organization XIII (13 for those who don’t know the roman numbering system) completing missions and eating ice-cream with his two best friends- Axel and Xion.

This is a mission based game with about half of them being required to advance the plot (these have a keyblade symbol next to them) though it’s a good idea to do all the missions as when you compete them you get experience to level Roxas up. A level up system that doesn’t work half the time as you can see that you get a level up panel but the game doesn’t give you it, it’s a good job you get level doublers, triplers and quadruplers seeing as I only ever got 15 level panels throughout the whole game.

The plot is decent during the second half of the game where you get more insight to the organization and their plans while the first half is just Roxas learning about friendship, love and… why the sun sets red? I’m sorry but is that important at all? No, no its not, it’s just filler that nobody wanted to see. But hey! At least we found out why Roxas left the organization now.

The graphics in this game could have been better. I know the DS had a lower limitation than the console games but is it too much to ask for that the keyblades didn’t look like thin as paper or the characters facials expressions didn’t look like a mess? This is a game from Square Enix who prides themselves on a good story and great graphics. I’m sure they could have done something to improve the graphics.

Extra content- every game nowadays has it. So what does this game have? A theatre mode (do I have to explain this) which for English fans is new…. for Japan- not so much. And like nearly all DS games a wireless play where you can go through past missions with extra challenges with up to three friends.

Overall I think it’s a great game and what problems it does have shouldn’t turn you away from it. It’s got one of the most interesting stories in the franchise and it’s great to see some old characters get some more screen time.

Advertisements

“Batman: Dark Knight Rises-Film Review”- A Guest Post

By Lauren ‘cabbage’ Mchale
From ‘The Cabbage Blog’
http://cabbageryblogs.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/batman-dark-knight-rises-review.html

FORWARD :At the time of writing this, it was the summer holidays and as I mentioned in a blog prior to this one, a 6 week stretch of utter boredom. In our quest to quench said boredom, during that time, a few friends and I decided to go and see the new batman film. Then with me, always stating that 60’s batman is and always will be the best rendition of him, A certain someone thought it’d be a great idea for me to review the latest batman film, the closing episode in Christopher Nolans trilogy. So, however terrible and un-choreographed this review turns out to be, the whole thing was Lewis Gillingwater’s idea. Also there’s definitely some spoilers and stuff, just so you know…

Before I get into the meaty chunk of reviewing, I need to say a few words about Christopher Nolan’s Batman in general. I could just say one word about the entire trilogy and not really bother with a review at all, we’d all be living our lives, I’d certainly be eating chocolate cake a lot sooner than I probably will be doing and you would all be off to have a nice cup of tea and an IM chat or something rather than reading this. The word I’ll say, is “Disappointing” In short, Nolan destroyed practically everything I loved about batman, while not fixing anything I didn’t like. In fact, his failure to fix any of the problems in Batman heightened the fact he’d destroyed my favourite superhero.

To be honest I rather like it when there’s more than one villain, keeps Batman somewhat entertained. Although I was dissapointed at the fact that we didn’t really have a team-up with these villains. Well, lets face it with catwoman as a villain, that’s rather difficult given she’s always had sexual chemistry with our caped crusader. She’s usually portrayed as this sad, misunderstood creature with debts to pay and a dark past. She was also characterised fairly well and wasn’t just (as the black widow was in avengers) an attractive woman in a tight suit for boys to goggle over. Although they did play to that aspect of it a bit, really, I’ve accepted they always will. It’s based on a comic book!

The other villain was Bane and he was done exceptionally well. Personally, I’d never seen anything with Bane in it before this, but I’m told he was basically just a stupid lump on magical mask steroids. If you’re familiar with me, you’ll know how much I appreciate an English accent in an american film. It’s utterly beautiful, and a nice bit of rest bite for my ears so, well done Bane. Although I will say he probably could have done with a T-shirt or something. Also, I’ve never seen anyone put someone in prison and give them access to a doctor, a TV and the exit. So yeah, Bane was probably quite a nice guy.

Robin. Well lets face it, Robin was a bit of a cop-out. He was NOT the real robin! Okay, he was much better than the recent videogame’s portrayal, but it still was absolutely terrible. For a start where on earth were his bloody tights? Robin is not robin without green shorts and skin coloured tights. End. Of. Story. Also, Joseph-Gordon Levitt was Kind of a bit too old to play robin really. Okay sure, there was even a bit near the end where he starts asking the little orphan kids to run little errands for him when he thinks the city is about to blow up and I couldn’t help myself from chuckling and whispering the words “Teen titans!” to the people seated next to me during the showing.

However, I will say an affectionate word about Alfred. Michael Caine was the perfect choice for the role and there will never, ever be another Alfred like him. He was the best suited to his role out of every actor in the trilogy and his sacrifices are never truly looked at, valued or appreciated. Alfred gave absolutely everything to Bruce, Wayne manor and Wayne enterprises only to have Bruce let him believe that he died saving the city. It is fairly sad, heartfelt and touching that you get to see Alfred cry. I must say, if the film had just ended there, peoples thoughts would have lingered a lot longer on Alfred and it would have been more apparent what he actually did for the Wayne family. Also, It would have been a much more believable and satisfying ending than what we actually ended up with.

Can I just ask everyone who’s read up to this point, did anyone else notice the sheer amount of plot holes in this darn film? Okay, SPOILER ALERT: but How did Wayne manor not get raided when the whole city was in the midst of a total anarchistic uprising? Shops, houses and damn near everything else was getting looted by panic stricken citizens of Gotham, yet no-one thought to do a quick smash ‘n’ grab in Wayne Manor, set up to be the most posh, grand and wealthiest house in the entire city? Alfred had already buggered off after a bit of a to-do with Bruce, so he’s not going to be keeping guard anymore, so alrighty then Nolan. How in gods name did Batman find the time to painstakingly decorate a building with petrol to set his insignia on fire? Like I’ve already said, the city was being controlled by Bane’s mercenaries, petrol would have probably all been seized by said mercenaries. Where would little Brucey have got it from?

One fairly big one I found rather amusing, is that cat woman believed on just what Batman told her was the Clean slate. She blindly believed it was exactly what he said it was, for all she knew it could have been a USB stick with Batman’s music collection on it. That’d be a bit awkward if she tried to use it to create a new identity for herself and all of a sudden her ears were being drowned in a sea of Rick Astley. Then Bruce wouldn’t be able to have his soundtrack to auto piloting that flying batmobile into the sea with nuke attached . While I’m on the topic, I really do not understand how he managed to get out of that and alive. More importantly, how did anyone get out of that alive? Where’d all the fallout go and why wasn’t there a goddanm tsunami on its way to gotham after that? I could go on a considerable amount longer about plot holes, but I’d rather my blogs not be listed as a cause of death on anyone’s certificate, so…

Here I am again though about the stuff Nolan either destroyed or didn’t fix. I honestly think the 60’s Batmans and heck, even 90’s Batman’s had less plot holes than this one film. Yes, future directors of any futurecoming Batman production, that needs fixing! I’d like the story to flow and make some description of logical sense, if not at least try and put some description of explanation to it. I don’t know, maybe Batman borrowed Dr.Who’s screwdriver? That would be a better excuse than just HE LIIIIVVVEEEES! If you’re going to make Batman modern and realistic, at least make him face up to reality rather than just pull a 60’s style ending on us for little to no reason. As for villains, yes Nolan’s villains have usually been great, and have been suitably… villainous and dastardly. But I liked them the way they were, If something isn’t broken then don’t fix it. Honestly, I thought Nolan had bigger problems than Bane being British. Plus, the one thing I can never forgive this trilogy for is the distinctive lacking of real Robin.

So basically, Batman’s kind of put on a bit of a spare tire and let himself go a bit. The entire trilogy was rather disappointing and the more I think about it, the more this film in particular seems like the worst one of the three. Batman became his own damsel in distress and left robin at the orphanage for god knows how long. Whoever next decides to take on a Batman series has got some real work cut out for them rescuing the Caped Crusader from eternal damnation.

20121116-055619.jpg

“Assassin’s Creed 3 Review”- A Guest Post

Assassin’s Creed 3 Review
By Lewis Gillingwater

To find a whole range of great game reviews visit Lewis Gillingwater’s successful blog: http://max543.blogspot.co.uk/

It has been five years now since the first Assassin’s Creed game gave players the opportunity to leap headlong into the past to experience first hand the lives of historical assassins.Through the power of a technological marvel called the Animus series protagonist Desmond Miles has been hopping through the memories of his ancestors ,beginning as Altair Ibn-La’Ahad in the crusades , continuing for two great games and one unnecessary one as the rather flamboyantly named Ezio Auditore Da Firenze in Renaissance Italy and now taking his place as the truly unpronounceable native American Ratohnhaké:ton , who goes by the far easier name of Connor Kenway for most of the game , in colonial America.

The game’s story spans around 30 years of Connors life and gives the player a great impression of why Connor is fighting and where is allegiances lie. All throughout the game there is a real sense of purpose that was often absent from previous games in the series and the great pacing serves to amp up the tension where it is required and keep the speed lower when large amounts of plot exposition is required. It isn’t perfect however , though the trailers show the game to be a breakneck action adventure don’t expect this to happen straight away , the first quarter or so of the game is made up of mostly boring missions starring Connors father and segments in which Desmond , literally the blandest character I’ve ever encountered , bickers with his Father and explores the games level hub. In fact you don’t actually get to play as Connor until sequence 5 of the game’s 12 sequences which vary wildly in length.

Once it gets going though the action very rarely lets up with the player reliving key moments of the American Revolution. From the signing of the Declaration of Independence , The Boston Tea Party and The Battle Of Bunker Hill all of your favourite historical moments are here as well as famous figures such as George Washington and John Hancock. If , like me , you are not totally up to date on your US history since you’re not from America then that’s fine too , an in game database is included which contains all of the information you could need on the people , places and events you will be seeing throughout your journey. A genuine sense of realism is felt throughout the game as you explore faithful representations of Boston and New York circa the 1700’s as well as a lovingly crafted vision of the American northwest’s frontier.

This visual beauty is only added to by the addition of a new game engine in which to experience the series’s third entry. The graphics have been made more realistic with gloriously rendered forests and mountains dotted around the Frontier. The main noticeable graphical updates are in the combat animation which now looks far less clunky and in the amazing water. I don’t know what technical wizardry has been pulled off at Ubisoft but the water in this game is shockingly realistic. When shallow it’s clear and bright blue and it provides for storms that create whirling maelstroms and humongous waves for you to navigate in the games newly added naval warfare sections.

These sections are quite possibly the series’ best addition yet. Taking command of your own ship , The Aquila , seems daunting at first but the controls are surprisingly intuitive. Steering is simple and cannon firing is mapped to the triggers. Despite the sheer power of a warship being at your beck and call these segments are among the most tense and difficult the game has to offer as cannon fire leaves visible damage in your ship and massive enemy fleets easily outnumbering and outgunning you at every opportunity. It quickly becomes an underdog situation but the opportunity to upgrade the Aquila makes it a little easier to fight back. It is entirely because of this difficulty that completing the naval missions ( which are almost always optional , only around 3 are compulsory) grants such a large sense of accomplishment because you have overcome such a large challenge.

On the flip-side of this is the rest of the games combat which , as with previous installments in the franchise , is still far too easy. though Connor has a vast array of weaponry you will likely only find yourself using his standard tomahawk since virtually every other option is slower or only useful in specific situations. As usual the combat starts off technical as you try to time attacks specifically to certain enemies but it quickly devolves into mashing the attack button and countering where necessary ; It’s flashy but far too simple. At least this time around some effort has been made , in vain admittedly , to increase the difficulty. New enemy types cannot be countered and others must be disarmed and there are now no mid-fight healing options but in the end this does little to alleviate the crushing simplicity of it all.

For a game called Assassin’s Creed there are also very few assassinations. While yes there are planned killings which I suppose some would define as assassinations but none of them feel stealthy at all.It seems Ubisoft has totally sacrificed all semblance of stealth gameplay in favour of a more action orientated play style. Gone is the silent stalking and detection dodge with these being pushed aside to be used as optional objectives. Instead we get high stakes set pieces and massive battles and while these are done well it’s such a large shift from the status-quo that for series fans it is honestly rather jarring.

A rather large amount of criticisms that could be levelled at Assassin’s Creed 3 are really relatively minor. Graphical glitches and wonky facial animation can detract from the game’s much touted immersion and a lack of combat difficulty leads to an awfully simple feeling battle system. The game features many mini-games but there were far too many for them to all be perfectly executed so minor things like in universe board games feel unfinished and the Homestead sidequest feels especially unnecessary.

That said there are many notable improvements over the previous series installments too. Boston and New York are vibrant bustling cities that feel more realistic than Rome or Constantinople from the previous two games. Historical figures such as George Washington are not portrayed , as people worried prior to release , as infallible figures of patriotism but as actual people with flaws and complexities. New protagonist Connor may lack the charm or wit of Ezio but he makes up for it in his sheer determination and drive he demonstrates throughout and though there are no standout supporting characters like Leonardo Da Vinci was in the previous games , this installment provides a more realistic portrayal of revolutionary figures who are totally believable at nearly every moment.

New additions such as the aforementioned sea battles and a huge array of activities such as hunting in the expansive Frontier and plenty of sidequests in and about the game’s cities allow for Assassin’s Creed 3 to be a wonderful value game. The main story alone will take around 10 hours , 100% completion will take you well up to Christmas and the returning multiplayer will keep you coming back for more.

Overall Assassin’s Creed is a wonderful all around game that serves as a brilliant ending to a trilogy that has spanned 5 years and 500 years simultaneously. It ties up as many loose ends as it conceivably can for Desmond Miles’s modern day adventure while at the same time weaving a far more interesting tale of deceit , betrayal , uprising and revolution in colonial America. If you’ve played even a single game in the series prior to this then Assassin’s Creed 3 is a must buy and the same can be said of anyone who values an immersive , interesting , long lasting adventure that will provide enjoyment for many months to come. Sure it’s different but why does that have to be a bad thing? Enjoy it for what it is , an immensely fun game that is great fun from start to finish.

8/10

“Abandoned” – A Guest Post

You may feel a chill,
In my gaze,
You might even laugh,
At the strange,

Some follow a path,
Without change,
I’m yet to find mine,
But one day….

You might feel the pain,
in my stare,
Why can’t i just tell you,
How much i care

In a matter of time,
You won’t glance my way,
You’ll simply move on,
To much brighter days,

And noone will notice,
As we all fade away….