Monthly Archives: February 2015

“Batman: Arkham City” Game Review

With the brand new Arkham Knight coming this June, I decided to recap on this franchise again. This action-adventure superhero video game was released on October 18th, 2011, and soon sold over six million copies worldwide. Now, is it better than than Arkham Asylum? Heck yeah it is. The overarching narrative takes place 6 months after the first game. Bruce Wayne is captured and thrown into the titular prison by Hugo Strange, who hopes to enact Protocol 10 by the end of the night. Wayne calls in his Batsuit, claiming he won’t leave until he knows what it is. What follows is a series of twists and turns galore featuring many iconic Batman villains. The combat and navigation mechanics are nothing short of impressive, with the ability to pick off enemies one by one with the Detective vision or take on a gang of thugs with kung-fu. Granted, just like the last game, the Detective Vision was extremely overpowered, but still fun. The Unreal Engine brings the titular prison to life in great detail, especially since you’re able to explore the open-aired environment around. It’s not the biggest open world game out there, but it’s certainly acceptable. The side missions are interesting as they feature Batman villains such as Bane, Deadshot, and of course the Riddler. Most of the voice cast returns from the first game, and still haven’t lost their touch, especially Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. New additions like Nolan North, Dee Bradley Baker and Corey Burton are welcome indeed. The soundtrack yet again is able to capture the grittiness and dark tone of the Christopher Nolan trilogy while the visuals and characters scream from the comic books. The boss fights didn’t have much challenge to them, but the one at the end was satisfying. This is without question the greatest superhero video game ever made, and one that I’ll have no trouble playing again and again.

 

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“Half Life” Game Review

Come on, Gaben, we need you to count to three. This first-person shooter was originally released on November 8th, 19998, and became an instant classic of the industry. It was the first major title released by the Valve Corporation, who have since dominated the PC Steam experience. In Half Life, you play theoretical physicist, Gordon Freeman, who leads an experiment to open a portal to an alternate dimension called Xen. His project is to be carried out in the Black Mesa Research Facility in New Mexico. Unfortunately, the project goes haywire, creating a portal that causes creatures to pour in through Xen. Having survived the incident with his H.E.V. Hazmat Suit, it’s up to Gordon Freeman to stop them. Interestingly, Freeman is a silent protagonist. While it does allow the player to make their own voice, it’s truly hard to give him a personality. The weapons are greatly varied, ranging from the iconic crowbar to some alien weapons picked up from dead foes. Soon the Military shows up and starts killing everything in Black Mesa, humans and aliens alike. The ultra-tech soundtrack provided by Kelly Bailey accompanies Gordon Freeman as he navigates his way to victory. The most fascinating part of the game is how requires now cutscene footage, and instead proves that games can tell compelling stories through scripted sequences. The ending, which I won’t spoil, was slightly anticlimactic. Still, there is plenty of gameplay and visuals to sink your teeth into. There is a full review of Half Life 2 coming soon, but I still haven’t finished it yet. In the mean time, enjoy this game.

2014 Movie of the Year

2014 was a stellar year for movies, perhaps the best of the decade so far. I’m taking the five movies from this that I enjoyed the most, but not necessarily have to have reviewed them. I’m giving out five different nominees and then deciding which is the best. Since there were so many films released, I didn’t get a chance to see them all. So I’m giving some honorable mentions to movies I heard a lot of great stuff about and those that I also enjoyed.
Honorable Mentions:
Nightcrawler, Gone Girl, Edge of Tomorrow, Xmen: Days of Future Past, The Imitation Game, The Lego Movie, Chef, Whiplash, A Most Violent Year, Godzilla, The Babadook, Birdman, Selma, Foxcatcher, 22 Jump Street, Into the Woods, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Snowpiercer

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
My first contender is the Wes Anderson comedy set in the early twentieth century. With a laid back narrative, ridiculous characters, and a fantastic performance by Ralph Fiennes, the story takes us through the many misadventures of Monsieur Gustav and Zero. The scene where Gustav tries to break out of prison was probably the hardest I laughed all year. It’s an easy pick to start off.

2. How To Train Your Dragon 2
The first How To Train Your Dragon was one of the best and most original animated movies from this decade. The second movie, however, raised everything up to 11. Darker and more emotional than the first, while still retaining the wit and humor, How To Train Your Dragon 2 was the best (and only) animated film I saw this year.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy
If this movie proves anything, it’s that as long as you slap the word Marvel in front your movie we’re seeing it. Combining beautiful visuals, a pitch perfect cast, and genuine characters, James Gunne crafted the funniest Marvel movie ever conceived. Also, Vin Diesel as Groot; he was awesome.

4. Interstellar
Interstellar was one of the most immersive films I’ve ever experienced. Mathew Mcconaughey is mesmerizing as Cooper, an astronaut who must travel to another dimension to save the human race. With beautiful worlds and a haunting soundtrack, Interstellar will definitely stay with you long after you walk out of the IMAX.

5. Boyhood
Here’s a strong contender not only for the best movie of 2014, but also of the entire decade. One may just dismiss the plot and characters as another coming-of-age film. But I can say it’s the closest thing any film has ever come to depicting the true meaning of life.

And the winner is…Boyhood!
Do you by any chance agree with me? Let me know what your favorites were from 2014, and be sure to follow me for more posts.

“Mad Max” Movie Review

With a sequel on the horizon, it’s time to look back on the original. This post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama by George Miller was released on April 12th, 1979, with a modest budget of $400,000. It went on to gross $5,355,490 worldwide, and is generally considered a cult classic. In the future, the Australian Outback is suffering an energy crisis, causing the land and society to crumble. Of all the futures I’ve seen in film, this one of the most plausible. Interestingly, it never says exactly what year this movie is set in. Instead, it allows us to pick any year in the next fifteen to twenty years and captivates us with its sharp vision. In his first big screen success, Mel Gibson delivers a commanding performance as the titular hero, Max Rockatansky, a cop who is only held together by his wife and baby son. The movie begins with him killing the notorious biker Night Rider, which sends the latter’s gang on a killing spree. This also puts the police at risk of being killed by the gang. At one point in the film, Max decides to ride with his family along the coast. However, this doesn’t mean they’re safe. The score by Brian May helps create an ominous tone to this bleak world. I recommend this 70’s classic to anyone who likes dystopian futures and when Mel Gibson wasn’t racist.