In honor of the Oscar nominations, I decided to review one of my favorite movies from last year. This art-house comedy from artistic director Wes Anderson was an immediate success. The creative arc has a story wrapped in a book, wrapped in a movie. It focuses on the concierge Monsieur Gustav H. who is left a very expensive painting by his lover, and is quickly accused of murder by the lover’s family. Gustav is elegantly played by a profane Ralph Fiennes, who regularly spills out some profanity midway through a calm speech. That is what really brings the laughs in the film. Well, that and the beautiful visual style, hilarious characters and silly scenarios. Always at his side is his favorite lobby boy, Zero, portrayed outstandingly by Tony Revolori. Along the way, the duo encounter a vast number of cameos from Hollywood actors like Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, and Willem Dafoe who all play essential parts of the formula. One scene that cracked me up immensely was when Gustav and his cellmates were escaping prison, and had to fend off the goofy guards. Such a hilarious moment in a rather tense situation is proof of how great a director Wes Anderson is. While the central core of the film’s story is touching at some parts, it’s the ridiculous characters and memorable scenarios that help build up the laughter. Really sealing the package is the fact that Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson narrate as and both play an author who interviews Zero many years later for the aforementioned book. Ralph Fiennes is the driving force of this film’s fantastic cast, one profane joke after another. If you’re a Wes Anderson fan or just a fan of comedies in general, look no further than this satirical movie.
2014 was a fairly underwhelming year for games, given everyone’s disappointment with Destiny and Watch Dogs. But 2015 looks like it’s gonna be a stellar year for games. Since there are so many worth mentioning, I’m excluding Halo 5 and Star Fox Wii U since neither of them have any real gameplay to go on. As well as Kingdom Hearts 3, Final Fantasy XV and the Last Guardian that are not confirmed for a 2015 release. And no…Half Life 3 is not on here for obvious reasons. Play a drinking game and take a sip every time you hear the word next-gen.
From Software? Brutal difficulty? This is the next-gen entry to Demon/Dark Souls. This time it’s set in Victorian-age England and will be a PlayStation 4 exclusive. Makes sense to move away from the medieval setting to a hundred or so years ago. Sure, the graphics do look pretty and the setting is different, but there is still a good chance that I’ll die within five minutes.
Okay, so Half Life 3 is still in development hell and there’s no way Dota or Team Fortress are getting a sequel. So this is the next best thing. It looks like it will be an epic sci-fi opera where you and you’re pals are fighting a whole ton of aliens. Think Left 4 Dead 2, but the zombies are replaced with aliens and instead of regular guns we have space cannons.
#8: Mortal Kombat X
This fighting franchises is notorious for it’s gruesome fatalities and over-the-top moves. And this installment promises to bring it into the next-gen systems. Aside from the fluid graphics, the tenth entry in the franchise will continue its story where the previous reboot left off. New characters are set to debut here, including Cassie Cage. Who thought being the daughter of two franchise characters could be so appealing?
#7: Star Wars: Battlefront
The first two Battlefront games from the sixth generation were really good. But a third installment never showed up. What happened was that gameplay footage was leaked, and the project was dropped. Leave it to EA and Dice to pick it up in 2013 with a teaser trailer, and they’re the same people behind Battlefield, so I hope that don’t screw this franchise up. It’s set to release alongside the new movie this winter. It doesn’t get higher because there isn’t much gameplay footage to go on.
#6: The Legend of Zelda Wii U
After S.S.B. for Wii U blew everyone’s expectations, we now need a new game for the system to keep us company. Enter this new installment. There was an interview between Shigeru Miyamoto and the game’s director were shown playing the game. It just looks like a beautiful water painting coming to life. The game hopes to change the Zelda formula, so I have my fingers crossed.
#5: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Naughty Dog proved themselves an essential part of the PlayStation formula with games like Jak and Daxter, The Last of Us, and this series. It’s the final adventure of Nathan Drake, and we get to play as him for one last time. Oh yeah, and Troy Baker will be voicing Nate’s brother in the game. Two of the best voice actors in recent times together? Could this game be any better?
#4: The Order: 1886
Yet another PS4 exclusive, this title plans on writing an alternate history by focusing on a secretive group that hunts down lichens and other monsters in Victorian age London. Hang on, doesn’t that sound like Bloodborne? Not entirely. This one has horror elements and its not as difficult. Your lamp will basically be your best friend in this game.
#3: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
It’s a next-gen Witcher game. Need I say more? Fine. The graphics and open world look beautiful and highly detailed. The gameplay hopes to eliminate the awkward controls from the previous games. And I eagerly await the conclusion of the protagonist, Geralt of Rivia. Will it be amazing? I guess we will have to find out.
#2: No Man’s Sky
Possibly the biggest open world game ever conceived, when it was unveiled last year, there was an immediate fan-base. I’ve explored large detailed cities, beautiful fantasy worlds and even the Wild West. But now there is a procedural-generating universe with millions of planets and systems to explore. The game looks and feels like the lovechild of Minecraft and EVE Online. Anyone with a PC or PS4 is lucky.
#1: Batman: Arkham Knight
Where do I even begin? The fact that the first two games in this series were amazing? That we finally get to explore Gotham City in the Batmobile? Or maybe it’s the gorgeous next-gen graphics? It will present an original villain called the Arkham Knight who gathers all of Batman’s enemies for one last attempt to kill. There’s literally no reason not to be excited for this game.
Tom Clancy’s The Division, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Dying Light, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege, Battlefield Hardline, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Dead Island 2, Total War: Attila, Splatoon, Shadow Realms, Just Cause 3
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It’s one of the most acclaimed franchises of the last generation, with basically all of the installments considered amazing. This first-person shooter was originally released on March 26th, 2013, and has since managed to sell 6 million copies worldwide. It was designed, written, and directed by gaming legend, Ken Levine who also did the original Bioshock, as well as the precursor System Shock 2. Now in comparison, one could argue that the first Bioshock has a slightly better story with the characters and the writing. But this story-line is also incredibly well-written and fascinating. Set over 40 years before the events of the first game, you play Booker Dewitt, a former Pinkerton agent who is swimming in financial debt. Given one chance of redemption, he must rescue a woman named Elizabeth from the floating city of Columbia. Unfortunately, he is caught in a civil war between the rebellious Vox Populi and the racist leader Zachary Comstock. The gameplay is equally impressive, combining FPS with robust RPG elements, a sky-hook roller-coaster included. Also, the voice acting is done at a really high quality, with Troy Baker and Courtney Draper in the leading roles. The game unravels its unpredictable narrative over a good length of time. Just like the previous installments, there is a massive plot twist well into the game’s story, which is best left unspoiled here. On top of that, the game tackles themes of racism, fundamentalism, free will, hope, rebirth, and religion. In one scene, Elizabeth asks Booker if he is afraid of God. He answers, “No, but I’m afraid of you.” It shows how deep this game can be. Especially the mind-blowing ending that still has gamers and critics alike debating over its meaning. This is a must-have game for fans of the series and first-person shooters alike. Even when you’re done, there is still replay value to be had, from the numerous vigors you use to the morality choices.