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Monday, 10 September 2012

World of Warcraft the killer that destroyed a genre.

Ask any self respecting gamer what they think the most succesful multiplayer game in the world is .. Without a shadow of a doubt they will all give you the same answer, World of Warcaft.

Blizzard Entertainments behemoth franchise Warcraft, undoubtedly the king of RTS gaming in the ninties evolved into what we know today as the single most immersive gaming experience one can have. World of Warcraft broke into the MMO scene in 2004 as a rival to already developed massively mutliplayer online games such as Ultima Online, Everquest and even Runescape all games that boasted a huge cult following.

Leading up to its release Blizzard Entertainment managed to build a huge hype for its marquee title using a whole host of clever promises, promises such as WoW having many aspects that gamers had yearned for in previous titles as well as making World of Warcraft incredibly accessible to newcomers to the genre.

In November of 2004 the games release saw the game sell over a million copies within days of it being on the shelves all thanks to Blizzards excellent business model and  of course exciting new content being churned out by reguarly in expansions such as the upcoming Mists of Pandaria and regualar patches. Since day one more and more people have flocked to Azeroth to take on epic quests, battles and enjoy the experience with their friends. World of Warcrafts peak playerbase is roughly around 12 million people which is more than the population of Scotland and Wales put together ...

As highlighted not only above but in a past game review on this very site i have pointed out how absolutely amazing World of Warcraft is, especially for a new player (Everyone yearns for that feeling of stepping into a new game for the first time with World of Warcraft!) but with the good must come the bad.

Thanks to the immense popularity of World of Warcraft other Massively multiplayer games that have been released have been absolutely crushed by Blizzards prize pig. A handful of games that have been fairly popular have seen themselves taking many of the key aspects and attributes from World of Warcraft themselves, although this has only seen them eventually get shot down for being a 'Yet another World of Warcraft clone'.

An excellent example of this is Lord of the Rings online, an MMORPG that should have had video game nerds around the world collectively suffering huge asthma attacks upon the announcement of the project and on release date, although of course that was not to be ... After only a fairly short time since release due to its lack of subscribers the game was turned into a FTP model. (Although it shoud be noted that the game did have a high ammount of popularity in the very early days, like most MMOs although of course soon after it faltered).

Age of Conan, another popular franchise that should of been a huge success once again, crushed.. The game boasted exciting features as did World of Warcraft when it was first released, although after a short two years AOC saw itself to being relegated to a Free to play model in the hope of ganing more subscribers, as well this blow Age of Conan's xbox 360 port was cancelled.

The latest competitor in the MMORPG market to take on World of Warcraft was highly anticipated Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic a game that did infact beat WoW in some senses when it became the fastest growing MMO in history.. Although in recent months SW:TOR has seen a decline in interest due to its supposedly poor endgame content.
Other titles that have been sent to the MMO graveyard in some way thanks to WoW (As well as of course their own flaws) are as follows ... Dungeons and Dragons online, Everquest II, Rift and a ton more that arent even popular enough to mention.

It seems that every MMORPG released now is going to be compared to World of Warcraft, and of course with all the new and immersive content being released it's near impossible for anyone without a huge budget and some of the best creative talent the industry has to offer.

The only way to avoid the harsh judgement and comparison it seems is to cater to a more niche audience, for example EVE online, Second Life, Minecraft, Guild Wars and of course League of Legends (not that you can class all of these titles as MMORPGs but still..) boasts large playerbases which remain unaffected by whatever it is WoW seems to be doing.

All in all the future of MMOs look bleak to me .. Once in a blue moon an exciting new title is promised, we wait and wait only to be eventually dissapointed as 'It isnt as good a World of Warcraft.' perhaps one day gamers will find their haven outside of Azeroth, perhaps its Blizzards mysterious Project Titan, perhaps it will be something else.

The Hobbit (2012) - Official Trailer

As some might know, i'm updating my blog so that not only am i writing reviews i'm going to write feature articles on allsorts as you know, reviews can get a bit tedious.. I'll be starting with something i've wanted to write about in a long time. How Blizzard Entertainment's MMORPG World of Warcrafts popularity has led to the demise of the MMO genre perhaps killing it for good.

In the meanwhile though i came across a trialer that i've seen before but i had to share on here because oh my god! its The Hobbit and it's going to out in cinemas in only a few months time .. I don't know about you but i can't wait for this!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Avengers (2012) - Josh Whedon

In all honesty despite being a huge nerd nothing about The Avengers perticuarly excited me when the film was originally announced. Superheroes just don't cut it for me, yeah i enjoyed Captain America and Thor to an extent, but who didnt? They all follow a similar plot with the same old cliches.

The Avengers however, miraculously changed my perception on superhero movies totally. This movie was ass kickingly awesome! Perhaps on their own these superheroes didnt quite set Hollywood alight, but together they did something special.

The Avengers is a sequel that follows the events of the previous Marvel Universe movies after Loki (Tom Hiddleston) (From Thor)finds his way back to Earth and steals the Tesseract – an alien source of pure energy – and threatens to enslave the human race with the help of his extraterrestrial army.

It is here that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) pulls together the worlds most talented band of superheroes in order to stop earth from anihilation and slavery. Those Six protagonists – Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Dr Bruce Banner aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are thrown together much to their distaste at times.

Despite such a vast array of talent on our screen at once, each superhero is given adequate screen time in which we get time to not only enjoy some intense action scenes but also learn the backstories of each member of the avengers iniative as well as a little bit about their personal grievances for example Dr Bruce Banners fear of his power or Captain Americas struggles to adept to the twenty first century.

The film also ventures into a fair bit of comedy along the way, both spoken and visual which really added to the overall product, i found myself in hysterics as well as ooing and aahing at some of the awesome fight scenes. Infact i'd go as far to say that the comedy in the film really made The Avengers the hit is was.

I walked into the Avengers a non believer i left a beliver. Josh Whedon deserves all the praise and then some for his excellent work on selling a franchise that had no interest to me in such a spectacular way.

If you've been hiding under a rock for the last few summer and havent yet seen this film i highly reccommend you do so!

Overall grade: A+

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Dictator (2012) - Larry Charles

Like any of Sacha Baron Cohens movies hype has been built for months using smart advertising and even smarter publicity stunts which had left me and everyone else itching to get into the cinema as soon as possible to sit through eighty three minutes of guilty belly laughs.

The story follows Dictator General Aladeen (Baron Cohen)'Beloved Oppressor' of North African country Wadiya in his struggle to take back his seat as evil dictator of his beloved country following a plot to assasinate him on a trip to New York to address the United Nations. Like both his previous films the plot follows an outlandish foreigner being thrown onto American Soil.

The jokes are in bad taste, and some of the references are absolutely shocking, but of course we all knew what we were in for as soon as we paid to see the movie, and i cannot complain one bit. As soon as the movie opened with 'In loving memory of Kim Jong Il' how could i not be hooked already.

Unlike the last two Cohen movies, Borat and Bruno The Dictator is an ordinary (If you can call it that) conventionaly structured fictional comedy which strangely, unlike the predecessors The Dictator has more of a Romcom element to it whereas the other two where filled with 'Candid Camera' style scenes which unfortunately this film has none of, which ultimately led me to finding this film less enjoyable than the previous.

Saying that the movie was an enjoyable one with not a little bit predictable. If perhaps Cohen and Charles had kept to the same type of live action situation gags we saw before this film might have been the best of the bunch. All in all though, defiantly worth a watch or two.

Overall Grade: B-

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Hunger Games (2012) - Gary Ross

Touted as 'The next twilight' to the delight of thousands, and the dismay of millions The Hunger Games is the first film released deriving from a series of book adaptations written by Suzzane Collins aimed at Teens and young adults. Set in a post apocalyptic United States split into twelve districts made to live in terrible conditions to maintain civil order as the price to pay for mass revolts against the government.

Each year the government holds the famed and feared gladitoral event 'The Hunger Games' where two randomly selected 12-18 year-olds from each district are selected to take part in a fight to the death with members of the other districts until all but those from one single district remain, all televised for the millions to watch.(Somewhat of a high-octane I'm a celebrity get me out of here!).

The film is centered on District 12's Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) a young lady who was not picked to take part in the annual games, but instead volunteered herself in the place of her younger sister who almost surely would not have lasted a day. Katniss is joined by male counterpart Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutchinson).

With the two youngsters selected, they are thrown into somewhat insanity as they are put under the guidance of Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) a former winner turned uninterested alcoholic (Don't worry he grows on you as does all of Harrelsons characters) and a host of others who groom, preen and train the youngsters so that they are at their very best ready to be paraded in front of thousands of the excenteric, rich and famous in the Capitol city before they are put into the games so that the rich can throw countless ammounts of money into the games.

I'm not going to go into any detail about the games itself as not to spoil anything for anyone yet to see the film, but all i can say is it's everything i hoped and more as their is a little bit for everyone, thrilling action, romance and a little bit of comedy thrown in here and there. The Hunger Games is one of the must see films of the summer without a doubt.

Just a final note, to those of you who really enjoyed the film, look up Battle Royale online and watch it! It's a Japanese film made in 2000 which pretty much follows the exact same plot as The Hunger Games, just one thousand times more brutal and gory.

Overall Grade: A+

Monday, 26 March 2012

Gypsy [Theatre]

Captivating, hilarious and raunchy would be three words to best describe Paul Kerryson's absolutely magnificent revival of one of Broadway’s most celebrated yet underrated musicals, Gypsy.

The Broadway classic follows the story of a pushy mother Rose (Affectionately named Momma Rose) living on the breadline travelling from city to city across 1930's America with her two daughters Louise and June desperately searching for fame and fortune on the vaudeville theatre circuit with the hope that her daughters act can bring the kind of fortune Rose so desperately craved for herself as a child.

Following a whole host of unsuccessful, lacklustre bookings in theatres across the states the star of Momma Rose's act, Louise and the adopted sons of the family decide after so many years of failure they must cut all ties to find fame and fortune as it does not lie in the hands of overambitious loud mouthed Momma Rose.

Distraught with what seems to be the end of her dream and the loss of her daughter Rose decides to turn to the ugly duckling of the family, Louise who in the past has showed little promise. Following a mix up in bookings Momma Rose and Louise find themselves booked in a Burlesque house where Rose finds herself pushing her daughter Louise into the industry beginning the career of Gypsy Rose Lee.

Renowned actress Caroline O'Connor (Playing Momma Rose) was undoubtedly the star of the show despite not being the audiences main focus throughout the production, it is my genuine opinion that I have not heard such a powerful vocal performance on stage before I saw Caroline O'Connor sing the closing song of the show 'Rose's turn' it was no surprise to me when the audience were off their feet in standing ovation for the first time of the production following a musical number.

Credit of course must go to Victoria Hamilton-Barrit playing the role of Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee as she did a wonderful job of portraying the transformation from the clumsy child constantly in the shadows of her sister to absolutely stunning burlesque dancer.

It really is difficult not go through each cast member individually and give them the credit they deserve for a wholly excellent performance throughout. The show offers a little bit of everything for anyone who views it, excellent comedic segments, excellent musical numbers and impressive dancing. Gypsy well and truly deserves to be taken to the West End sooner rather than later.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Community [Television Series]

Currently on an unfortunate mid-season hiatus American comedy Community is a show that despite getting off to what i beleive was a bad start in its first series is a brilliant Sitcom that has taken a place in my essential television viewing that i could barely go a week without missing.

It is made in such a fashion that it takes inspiration from overused, tiresome and plot cliché's so recognisably obvious that it makes you want to pull your hair out ... But oh no, Community absolutely hits the nail on the head with this and have produced an absolutely excellent show that leeches of pop culture like theres no tomorrow which of cause we the audience lap up.

Community is a show about an ethnically, gender and race diverse study group that find themselves involved in all the tired cliches Greendale community college puts them in from Halloween zombies to Christmas and Glee clubs there is no end to the over the top situations the group find themselves in. The best thing about Community though is, i genuinly beleive if you look hard enough you'll find a bit of yourself in one of the members of the study group, allbeit the Kind hearted good mother of the group Shriley, sometimes self centered and loverman Jeff Winger or the wise-assed dick Pierce (Played by the brilliant Chevy Chase).

Community is well and truely such an easy going show that you can pick it up from any episode and just sit back and find yourself enthralled within minutes. Although it has its bad moments at times the show has thousand more good. I really reccomend anyone looking for a lighthearted Sitcom to sit down and give Community a chance. I'm only keeping this review short so i'll i guess this is all wrapped up!

Overall grade: A-

World of Warcraft series [Game Review]

I'd like to think of myself as huge a secret nerd, i suppose writing this review is like coming out of the nerd closet as i keep my online gaming to myself ... I have a sneaking suspicion that this might just be my longest review yet as i'm going to cover all the expansions so far and maybe even a little look into the latest. So prepare yourself for a long winded slightly opinionated crack of the whip at Blizzards World of Warcraft series.

World of Warcraft is the worlds most popular online game with over 10 million subscribers across the globe, although i'm sure the majority of you reading this knew that already! The game is developer Blizzard's fourth game in a series set in the fantasy universe known as Azeroth, a setting that takes heavy inspiration from dungeons and dragons. The difference with this installment of the Warcraft series is that Blizzard has taken a vastly different approach from the DOTA style games they're used to churning out and instead on November 23rd 2004 (The 10th anniversary of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans) the groundbreaking MMORPG was released.

I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt, sitting down to play World of Warcraft for the very first time is possibly one of the best gaming experiences any gamer can have. You begin with creating your very own in game character, which is one of the hardest choices in the game in my opinion with so many races and classes to pick from you find yourself creating every possible combination you can until you find something that suits your style of play, for example if you like to get into the thick of the action pick a warrior, if you like to keep out of the way and help everyone else roll a priest! The choices presented are well and truely overwhelming for a new player.

The aim of the game can vary depending on what kind of gamer you are (See the similarities here when it comes to how you can play the game?) depending on what realm you pick. Some of the realms cater to role-playing fans that prefer to play in character the whole time, while other realms are made for player-versus-player action. Or if you really want you can just play an ordinary realm. Although since the latest expansion came out it doesnt matter which realm you pick as a lot of the activitys in the game are cross-realm.

The games major accolade is that after countless hours spent playing you just don't want to stop unlike most other games, if you've done enough questing for the day you can go explore one of the various beautifully made zones in Azeroth, team up with your friends to take on a dangerous dungeon for epic loot or if you're in a destructive mood take part in some war games and take on your rival faction in a battleground. The possibilitys are endless.

World of Warcraft provides a constant stream of variety for the player, the combat system isfast, inter-changeable and action-packed! battles that are fun and intense, whether you're fighting alone or in a group. Blizzard well and truely hit gaming gold when they made World of Warcraft.

Of course though with every good game comes updates and over the past eight years three expansions have been released with a third on its way in the not so distant future. The first expansion of the series was World of Warcraft: The burning crusade. This expansion saw the unveiling of a whole new zone Outland which is far far away from Azeroth through a portal, these lands are inhabited with demons last seen in Blizzards Warcraft III. As well as the new zone and antagonists the expansion saw the level cap raised from 60 to 70 and the introduction of Blood elves (Horde) and Draenei (Alliance). Overall i found the questlines and new zone in the Burning Crusade fairly fairly enjoyable but the new races just didn't do it for me.

The second expansion released was World of Warcraft: The Wrath of the Lich King. The highly anticipated expansion was released in November 2008 and at the time was the fastest selling game of all time shifting over 2.8 million copies in 24 hours. New to this expansion saw another new zone uncovered, Northrend a continent for higher level players to explore and conquer with areas such as Grizzly Hills and the Howling Fjord being touted by many as the best zones ever created by Blizzard in WoW. Aside from this Wrath of the Lich King also introduced the Hero class Death Knight, an evil class that can played as by any race in the game. Death Knights start at Level 55 and are a mixture of a few different classes rolled into one. Once again the level cap was raised by ten to 80. Personally for i found this expansion underwhelming in terms of content other than the new zone.

The mother of all expansions came early last year, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, one that i myself being a veteran of the game and many other found on one hand absolutely amazing and on the other devastating, as what all Warcraft nerds grew to love was destroyed. In Catalysm an evil dragon aspect, Deathwing the Destroyer has made his way through an elemental plane of Deepholme which has caused the world to fall into a state of cataclysm changing the landscape forever. Along with these changes came a whole handful of new zones for higher level players including an Indiana Jones egypt style zone Uldum and an Underwater zone Vashj'ir, the elemental plane Deepholme, Mount Hyjal & The Twilight Highlands. This expansion also saw two new races, Worgen (Alliance) and Goblins (Horde) who i cannot say i personally like (Although i'm not a fan of any new race) and my opinion is that perhaps they'd both be better served as neutral races. Whilst i absolutely loved the new content that came with Catalysm it has ruined my memorys of Azeroth and i can only look back at my early days of playing and wish for that back.

I'm not going to go onto the latest expansion as quite frankly i think this review has run its course, but when it is released i'll be more than sure to give my opinion. All in all i can safely say World of Warcraft is without a doubt the greatest MMO ever created and its going to take a hell of a lot for it to be knocked from the top spot in online gaming no matter how hard developers are trying. Saying that though i do beleive its glory days have passed and that Blizzard are going to have to pull something big out of the bag in the next five years to stop them steadily losing even more subscribers than they already have.

Overall Grade: A+

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Devil Inside (2012) - Official Trailer

Staying in the swing of the genre i've decided too upload to trailer for what looks to be one hell of a horror coming out in the new year, The Devil Inside. It seems to me that the concept of the film is very much similar to that of one of your basic Excorcist style plots, judging from the trailer perhaps its trying to take a 'real life' angle, as if it actually happened with the 911 calls and all. I've not really got much else too say about this except for watch the trailer and get excited about it!  


Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) - Henry Joost

Forgive my rustiness as anyone who took a slight interest in my blog over the summer will know that i've since gone back to university and have had no time whatsoever too watch many new movies/play any new games. So i'm right in thinking thath perhaps my comeback review for the christmas period might be a bid shoddy.

To begin a run of what i'm hoping will be a whole month of brand new reviews i'm starting with the most recent film i've seen on the big screen, Paranormal Activity 3. Part of the cult franchise that has turned out to be an absolutely huge moneymaker for paramount pictures, despite the fact that perhaps that the franchise isnt well liked by many, and is seen as somewhat of a joke.

Paranormal Activity 3 is set in the late 1980's following a young family consisting of a young mother and her boyfriend, dennis, and her two young daughters Katie and Kristi. Kristi is haunted by an unatural presence who she refers to as Toby, her imaginary friend when in fact the presence is a demon (Hardly too much of a spoiler there). Denins, a wedding photographer notices strange goings on throughout the family home and sets up cameras throughout the house too record any of the strange goings on. Que your typical 80 + minutes of jumping out of your seat everytime you hear a strange noise or see something in the corner of your eye.

By now you'd have thought that the Paranormal Activity franchise has squeezed all it can from the homemade style horror idea but low and behold they found new ways too keep us going, one scene imperticular where Dennis straps his videocameras onto a fan too get a better perspective of the whole room whilst filming keeps the audience on standby, the tension created by the small little things like this is what really sold the film too me, as in all honesty i was execting too be less than imperssed when i went into the cinema, but i came out the cinema genuinly quite scared (Each to their own, as i know people who have gone in and came out in fits of laughter at how poor they thought it was).

All in all i genuinly found this film to be worth every penny, i wanted a scare, i got a scare. As a mild fan of the horror genre thats all i really wanted. The acting was really top notch at times and everybody on and off camera got the film spot on, i genuinly beleived that perhaps the franchise was going to die out after PA2, but here i stand told otherwise. A great watch, go and see it!

Overall Grade: B+

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Walking Dead [Television Series]

The Walking Dead is hopefully the start of a new breed of decent TV horror, which is something pretty darn rare that we are often not treated too enough. Judging from the brilliant reception The Walking Dead received after its first series i'd like to hope things are looking up for the genre, i want more zombies and less vampires!

The series follows Rick Grimes a Sherrifs deputy who wakes up in a hospital to a world which has changed more than anybody could of possibly imagined since he slipped into a coma (Where have we seen this before?) after being shot in a shoot-out he searches his surroundings, an abandoned ward with flickering lights, broken down hallways and barricaded doors. As he makes his way through the dark hospital he finds out that he is the only one that's not in a body bag. Everyone he knew and cared for have supposedly gone, the army have clearly lost whatever battle was being fought. Its all very eerie and brilliantly done. If it wasnt for the cliché opening which wasnt exactly original it'd be a perfect start, but hey! that doesnt bother me i was hooked from the second the titles began.

The apocalypse has come plunging the world into chaos with a virus ravaging humanity turning everyone into mindless undead scourge, Grimes is alone and he must come to terms with that and fight his way through the city in an attempt too find his wife and son, who he is certain are still alive the journey begins. I'm not going to give any plot away or talk about what happens in any of the other episodes as i wouldnt want to ruin an brilliant series for any of you that havent seen it.

The Walking Dead focuses on the characters and their emotional journey as much as their physical hardships in which we are treated too very realistic impact and affects of such an freakishly frightening scenario on the people who remain. There is an incredibly impressive balance moving seamlessly between big battle scenes where bullets and brains fly across the screen to dramatic personal intimate moments of grief , all of which are done flawlessly and give us a real feeling of empathy, even for characters we're not even meant to like.

With all that being said, The show does lack some consistancy and could really do with some more in depth character development which i hope we see in series 2, as 6 episodes in series 1 was far from enough, although it certinarly did its job in making me want more. The whole of series 1 has only given me the impression that was just a small taste of whats to come in Series 2 which is due to premier just around the corner in October.

Overall Grade: B+

Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Television Series]

Spartacus: Blood and Sand is without doubt the best thing to come out of 2010 in terms of television. Billed as the most violent and smuttiest show of the year i couldnt resist giving this series a watch especially as i was looking for something to fill the void left since finishing the first series of Game of Thrones (Which i shall review in due course). The show follows Sparticus a Thrascian who is betrayed by the Romans and captured, snatched away from his loving wife and winding up in the house of Batiatus training to be a gladiator, freed only when he has proven himself worthy of such.

The show has received very mixed reviews across the globe with some slamming it as distastefull and over the top, but i say its exactly what we need no television, i honestly dont think i've ever really enjoyed films and tv shows based upon the romans (i.e. Rome) with the film gladiator obviously being the exception. But this is exactly what i wanted too watch. What red blooded male doesnt want too sit through an hour of slow motion fight scenes with decapitations and gnarly deaths, and when we arent seeing epic gladitorial scenes its pretty much soft core porn. Although this as interesting as it may be was used a little too frequently for my liking and most people i've spoken too or read reviews on and left me thinking 'More sex? Jeez.' I'm not quite sure what made them all so sexually charged but my god they loved to screw. 

Of course the series isnt just about that mindless violence and sex, there is a pretty darn good plot behind it too. Not only are we following the trials and tribulations of our hero Spartacus who vows to escape the House of Batiatus any means nesscercary to be reunited with his wife, we follow fellow gladiator and bitter rival of Spartacus Crixus (who goes on to getting his own series in the shows prequel in series 2) and of course the cunning and sly Batiatus and his equally nasty wife Lucretia. We follow their quest for domination upon the city trying to gain access to a high seated political place, with like Sparticus the pair will go to no limits to get what they want, even if it means murder.

The cast in this show are absolutely brillaint with great acting from the likes of Andy Whitfield (Spartacus), John Hannah (Batiatus), Lucy Lawless (Lucretia), Peter Mensah (Doctore) (Although for an even better performance from Mensah, see series 2) and Nick Tarabay (Ashur). Of course there are coutnless other actors who deserve plaudit for the part they played in this series but i cant give them ALL praise personally.

Finally, a short word for Andy Whitfield who as many fans of the series know was suffering with cancer and was unable to continue filming for the series after series 1 and was on temp leave until he could return after he had fought his illness. Sadly passed away after his battle with Cancer on September 11th 2011. Chris Albrecht, president and chief executive of Starz, said in a statement, “The man who played a champion on-screen was also a champion in his own life.” Mr. Whitfield faced cancer with “courage, strength and grace,” he said. In addition to his wife, Mr. Whitfield is survived by two children and a sister. In her statement, his wife described him as “our beautiful young warrior.” She said he died in her arms.

Overall Grade: A+

Warrior (2011) - Official Trailer

I'm going to begin throwing in a few trailers of films i'm looking forward too seeing that are yet to be released, Warrior is one of which that i'm anticipating rather highly. I'm not a massive fan of cage fighting but it seems to me that this film is much more than that, and i'll be watching this asap for sure.

127 Hours (2011) - Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle deserves all the praise in the world for his adaptation of the chilling and gripping true story of Aron Ralstons fight for survival in a scenario where it seemed that all hope of survival was lost. In 2003, Aron Ralston, a climber and extreme sports enthusiast who one weekend went out hiking in the remote Blue John Canyon in Utah. He had told no one where he was going; he had no mobile phone and even with it he would of struggled to contact anyone as he was so far out in the remote canyons.Whilst the adreneline junkie is climbing through canyons he slips and falls down a crack in the ground, taking a large rock with him as he hits the bottom of the canyon the rock which fell with him trapped his hand and wrist and no matter how hard he tried he was unable to get free. This is where the horror story begins.

I'm going to give away a major spoiler in the film now, but in all honesty there really isnt much reason for me to warn you as you need to have been under a rock for a year (No pun intended, honest!) not to know the outcome of this story. As the days dwindle by after numerous attempts at trying to free himself with all the rescources he had, things were looking grim. Over the course of the four days he was trapped his food and water supply ran out and it could be said that Aron was slipping into slightly madness accompanied by weird epiphiny like halluciantions, brilliantly portrayed by his video diary he had filmed throughout the four days. In the end Ralston realised what he has to do and gruesomely breaks his arm to peices and then cuts it off in a bid to escape..

Boyle has indicated that the meaning of this story, its take-home message, is that it made Ralston a better person; he learned that he couldn't do everything himself, and that he should swallow his pride and learn to do things with the help of others we are given an insight into Arons life and past via his hallucinations which is what gives the film such an emotional edge, one one hand we obviously feel awful for Ralston and want nothing more for him to escape but on the other hand, his past has shown us that he has made wrong decisions and needed to learn from his mistakes, which he now understands after his time spent in the canyon.

With James Francos brilliant acting showing true emotion and fear which i really felt throughout coupled with the brilliant directing of the ever succesful Danny Boyle we are treated to a visually and mentally stunning film which has you on the edge throughout. Its an exciting and touching film that was executed brilliantly.

Overall Grade: B-

Monday, 12 September 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) - David Yates

                           ** ** ** Warning there are heavy spoilers throughout this review ** ** **

It all ends here. The slogan slapped across posters for this film all across the world, for someone who has grown up with Harry Potter and has followed the trials and tribulations of our protagonist throughout my teenage years i've found myself like most people my age finding it hard to accept that this is the end. We've all read the books, played the video games and of course watched the films on endless occasions. Everything we've ever taken in about the world of Harry Potter, Hogwarts and witchcraft and wizardary has led to this point. And its due to the fact that the film has come to such an end, technically marking the end of my childhood in a scense is why i have not wrote this review sooner! (Which on the whole is quite pathethic but trust me i'm not the only one who felt bloody heartbroken when the credits began to roll!).

The second part in the two part ending of the famous series sees Harry, Hermoine and Ron fight there way back to Hogwarts too face the greatest foe the world has ever seen, he who must not be named (But hey, he's gone so i think its safe to name him now) Voldermort. But before Harry faces the dark lord himself we are treated too about 100 minutes of pure adreneline fuelled action, dragons in Gringotts, death eaters in hogwarts, giants, ghosts, teachers, wizards and spiders THE LOT INFACT! HP&TDHP2 (work it out for yourself) a visually stunning and breathtaking spectacle from start to finish. Scenes such as the multiplying goblets in Bellatrix Lestranges gringotts vault, the room of requirement fire and of course the battle scenes (most amazing the death eaters breaking the Hogwarts defences) scenes are beautifully done and i litteraly sat there in the cinema with my mouth open an awe at what i was watching.

aside from all the heart racing and exciting actions scenes we're gifted theres of course some heartwarming  moments that had the audience in jubilation or close to tears at times. Throughout the whole Harry Potter series the we've read and seen the blundering fool that is Ron Weasley and the smart and witty Hermoine Grangers relationship build and build slowly but surely and when it hits its peak in a heartfelt moment when they passionately kiss as they beleive its possibly the last time they could be together as they could lose their lifes in the battle of Hogwarts, the audience in the cinema let out a collective aww. Of course where there is good there is also bad, the hardest scene in the whole film for myself and the majority of the people around me was when Harry realises that his destiny has always been to die at the hands of voldermort as he is the last Horcrux in order for Voldermort to die himself. If i hadnt of known the outcome from reading the books a long time before i'd have been absolutely mortified at this point of the film and wanting to scream at the screen in desperation!

That isnt the only emotional rollercoaster in the film though Snapes death is one which had my own mother and an old man sat on the other side of me as well as a good portion of the cinema in tears. When it came to the scene that Snape was murdered by Voldermort your first instanct was the be pleased as of course Snapes that evil man who killed Dumbledore and is a loyal servant to Voldermort. It is revealed that, that isnt the case at all and he's infact been working on the good side all along too avenge the death of his childhood love Lilly Potter (GASP! . . .) Its all a difficult watch without wanting to bawl like a little girl.

Theres also a few little surprises throughout the film for example, the unlikely hero who saves the day is the once pathethic Neville Longbottom, who plays a pivotal role in the battle of hogwarts with his bravery and courage and oh yeah, the slight accolade of wielding the sword of Godric Gryffindor and slaying Nagini, Voldermorts snake which happens to be one of the Horcruxes. My favourite little surprise in the film came at the very end when we see all of Heros (Even Malfoy) at the Hogwarts Express with their children preparing to send them off the Hogwarts for the very first time, its a delightful scene which made me grin ear to ear.

I dont want to ramble on anymore about the plot and key points as its most likely you've seen the film and dont need me repeating whats happened. And if you've not seen the film, more fool you for reading on and ruining it when i warned you about spoilers! Overall this has to be the best in the Harry Potter series without a shadow of a doubt and takes my award for best movie of the summer just ahead of planet of the apes. I'm pretty sure i'll find myself rewatching this film in the not so distant future and i highly reccomend you give do too!

Overall Grade: A+

Mortal Kombat [Game Review]

I remember like it was only yesterday when i was playing the original Mortal Kombat on the snes, getting absolutely hammered by the big four armed bloke with the womens ponytail countless times, and once again i find myself in the same position well over ten years later. The blood drenched saga continues in glorious fashion in the ninth reincarnation of series, don your ninja suits and ridiculous weapons and jump into the ridiculous and down right brutal world of 'Kombat'.

I've not played a proper Mortal Kombat game in a long time so i'm a bit rusty on the lore/storyline to this game as i've mainly played through ladder matches with my friends and i've neglected the story mode (Although what i have played has rocked!) I do beleive it goes along the lines of the world is ending due to some big dude with an awesome mask fucking up the world, he kills everybody in the mortal kombat franchise, raiden sees this in a vision and the group take part in the kombat tournement ran by some evil old guy to change the course of history and save 'earth realm' The story isnt brilliant and could of been a lot better, but it still aint half bad. The story-mode itself is excellent.

The Combat system in MK is smooth and fluid, and the game feel absolutely awesome to play especially when you line up a whole row of combos leading to the most awesome bit of the game X-Ray moves. X-Ray moves are a short string of brutal attacks that take a fair chunk of damage from your opponent and at the same time treats the player to a gory visual of your oponents bones breaking and being crushed bit by bit, these attacks are difference makers and can win or lose you the fight.

With an awesome set of classic and (I believe) a few new characters in the game this is surely one of the best Mortal Kombats if not the best since the original. Warner Brothers and Netherrealm have taken the game back to its basic roots, no more weird side scrolling fighters or poor attempts at revivals, this games the real deal and with 9 games in the series, two movies, and its very own web based series it surely seems that Mortal Kombat could be on the rise again, a sequel to the game and a new movie perhaps? We can only hope!

Overall Grade: B+

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution [Game Review]

Its the release the gaming world has been waiting for for some time, the ever popular Deus Ex series returned after a long eight year delay since its predescor Invisible war came out back in 2003. The series has always offered exciting and deep gameplay with vast choices in player customisation (for skills and such), conversation paths and places to go and look around. I myself have never been a huge fan of the first person shooter genre and especially not a fan of stealth games as i've always found myself becoming bored and running in screaming all guns blazing, which never ends well.

The games game is set in 2027 and the plot circles around the controversial topic of human augmentation which has changed the way people live. Augmentation technology makes the more fortunate stronger, faster, and hardier--for a cost, of course. Of course everybody has their own opinion on the matter, many strongly against which from what i played in the game (First long mission and a few side quests) i felt like the villian for being forced onto the pro-augmentation side after the fundamental choice of whether or not to become augmented with cybernetics has been removed from Adam Jensen's life when he was given the cybernetics after being attacked and nearly killed by a mysterious group.

The gameplay was absolutely stunning, knowing that this game featured heavily in stealth put me off at first, but of course after an hour or so into the game i knew i had nothing to fear Deus Ex gives you the ability to play how you like, so instead of being forced into the boring and tedius task of hiding behind a box and picking off enemys slowly i was able to mix it up and go a little bit crazy at times. The hacking system in the game was pretty confusing and difficult to use, but admittedly thats because i didnt really watch the tutorial properly as i was overly keen to get into the next gunfight, but the hacking system minigame is highly regarded as great success by many reviewers.

 There is only one major flaw which drove me absolutely mad with rage when i was playing, its very simple and could be bypassed with common sense on the human side, but the game does not automatically prompt you too sign into your game profile, nor does it have an autosave feature or anywhere in the game to prompt you to save. Of course its entirely my fault that i forgot to do these two things but i found myself dying after playing through an hour of the game and there was no option to return to my last save point, losing ALL my progress as i wasnt signed in. I had to start again and then three hours later i hadnt saved for a good while and lost a LOT of progress once again. It was highly enfuriating and ruined the game a little bit for me.

I really wish i had more time to play this game as i didnt even scratch the surface with it, given the time i'm most defiently going to play this game properly and visit all the places and make use of the augmentation system which is so very important to the game and allows you to play with your own unique style. This was a brilliant game and it made me a little bit more open to stealth/fps games which i've so often avoided in the past. Most defiently worth purchasing!

Overall Grade: B+

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Captain America (2011) - Joe Johnston

Captain America is the latest release in a whole host of Marvel superhero flicks in the lead up to the 2012 summer blockbuster The avengers which will include all of the Marvel heros which i'm eagerly awaiting, despite not being a huge fan of the genre. I genuinly don't think anyone could turn down enjoying an all round 'popcorn hit' just as the other Marvel movies have been, with them being reviewed as all round great summer films for everyone to enjoy.

Captain America was all that i expected, for saying that i wasnt aware of the plot or Stan Lee's 1960s comic adaptation. It was loud, brash and and in your face it times with we the audience getting treated too 2 hours of over the top action which in all fairness is just what i sat down to expect (as i did with Thor) and i wasnt dissapointed. Of course it was barely a pyschologically charged movie with lots too make us think, its the dead opposite at times but thats just what fans of marvel movies have paid to watch.

The plot follows a scrawny Steve Rogers a young man deemed unfit for military service, Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America's ideals. Its fair to say the film got off the a great start and i was captivated, but by the midway point i'd seen it all. Once you've seen Captain America kill a few nazi henchman with his shield you've seen it all.Which of course is what the whole Captain America character is based on, but dont tell me you dont find his loyality to using that shield incredibly ridiculous there were better alternatives which just had me grumbling to myself at times... But hey! thats me and of course my opinion is bound to be outweighed by the millions of Marvel fanboys.

In my honest opinion i think that this film was pretty standard, it had its moments but i just saw too many parts that just irritated me that put me off the film as a whole. I didnt really like the villian of the film a crazed nazi who goes under the Red Skull (who's actual villian face was bloody ridiculous). It was a souped up World War II film with the odd star wars-esque weapon. Looking at the start of my review i feel i may have condradicted myself throughout a little bit, so too summarise i'll say that the film was everything i expected from a superhero movie, although i just didnt enjoy it after the first fourty or so minutes when the action set in with all the irritating clichés and such.

Overall Grade: C-

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Minecraft [Game Review]

For months and months upon end, i've purposely avoided Minecraft like the plague after playing it in its very early beta phase on singleplayer. But with it being summer and not very much to do with my days i figuired my best bet would be to get the chip off my shoulder and give it one more go. Admitedly this review is most likely going to be rather biased as i'm basing it on my first two days playing minecraft and of course i never liked it the first time round (So expect a newer review in a month or so after i've grasped the game).

Once i'd done the heartbreaking task of parting with £13.99 for the game i jumped right into it and thought my best bet would be to play on single player mode for a while and work it all out. Once in i found myself faced with a randomly generated map where i was surrounded by a little bit of everything, sand, snow, grass and water (fun fact, its said that the full size of minecrafts randomly generated maps are eight times the size earths surface). I wanted to explore vast mines, get diamonds and build an awesome building like i've seen on various youtube videos.

Oh no .. of course that wasnt to be was it? Instead i found myself searching through tons and tons of wikipedia pages and websites trying to teach me the basics of minecraft, which is my biggest problem with Minecrafts single player game, it offers nothing at for brand new players with no knowledge of what to do. Once i'd learnt everything the game got slightly fun in all honesty, but i couldnt see myself getting anywhere by mining all this junk on my own, so it was time to plunge into the vast servers of Minecrafts multiplayer mode.

I was more than excited to go around with thousands of other people in these thrilling and creative servers. Until of course that is when i actually clicked the Mutliplayer button. How on earth was i, a brand new player meant to know what to do here? I only just paid for the game nevermind knew any of the servers IP's, this is my second biggest fault with the game all i really want is a big busy server full of rescources and mountains i can dig deep into, so far all i've found is HUGE player citys full of peoples creations where i've been told NO YOU CANT BUILD HERE and so on (note: all these servers have been survival not build). So far i've been hugely dissapointed but perhaps if i can find a server that suits my playing style i might really enjoy this game like the countless others, its just going to take some time.

Overall i can see why this game is such a huge success worldwide and why many people chose to play it, but so far its not for me at all, the singleplayer mode i found enjoyable, but when i went over to multiplayer to see if i could recreate what i was doing there with other people i just found myself being told off for trying to build in certain places and being randomly killed by other players when finally getting somewhere, multiplayers been a VERY fustrating experience and has left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Overall Grade: D-  (Note: could rise massively depending on my future gameplay)

Monday, 5 September 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) - Rupert Wyatt

I sat down to this film being a newcomer to the planet of the apes franchise as i've never given the older films much of a chance in the past and i figuired where better to start than the brand new prequel? Boy am i glad i took the time to watch this film, it was an absolutely stunning and compelling mixture of brains and emotion that made this film possibly my favourite film of the summer season on par with the Deathly Hallows part 2 (Which i shall review sometime soon as it's just come to my attention i havent done so yet!).

Rise of the Planet of the Apes takes a strong look into a very real and emotive world of gene therapy, big pharmaceutical companies and animal testing gives the film relevance and credibility, something lacking in most modern sci-fi pictures where we are thrown right into the thick of things often with very little explanation. In all honesty i'm going to struggle to review this in too much depth as it is very hard not to give any spoilers away as this film is packed to the brim with an exciting, richly intense and emotive storyline. So all i can really do here is attempt to convey to you how bloody brilliant this film was without telling too much of the story.

We follow the life of the son of a genetically altered ape, Ceaser who was taken from his lab by our other main character, scientist Will Rodman (Played by James Franco)  to avoid being slaughtered. Ceaser is a naturual companian too Will and his father Charles (Played by John Lithgow) who suffers from the very disease Will is trying to combat, Alzheimers. The scenes with these three together were intense and emotional and by far some of the best moments. Of course this is a film on how it all began so of course it wasnt going to end on that note, things change dramatically for Ceaser and using his superior intelligence he and his primate counterparts begin an uprising. Of course we all know how this ends from the original films..

I was gripped from start to finish with this exceptional movie, which is something i can say is fairly rare with some of the latest releases too hit the cinema. Absolutely brillaint film i could not rate highly enough! A must see and surely in line for some serious awards come awards season thanks to its exceptional CGI alone.

Overall Grade: A+

Diddy Kong Racing [Game Review]

Its been a busy weekend for me and i havent had the time to watch any new films or purchase any new video games to review, with nothing too contribute i figuired, hey! I'll review some classic video games as there are countless titles i can think of that have carried me through childhood that i'd love to give my opinion on.
So without further adieu heres my review of the Nintendo 64's racing classic Diddy Kong Racing.

Diddy Kong Racing was Rares competition to the N64's Mario Kart 64 in 1997. The game was pre-ordered 800,000 times in the weeks leading up to christmas, making it one of the fastest selling video games of all time with the accolade being more than well deserved as Diddy Kong Racing is possibly one of the best N64 games ever released. The game featured a distinctive game mode that very much had similarites with super Mario 64 except for . . . You're in a vehicle of course! You'd begin the game in an open world map kind of lobby with passages to areas full of doors which led to a certain race track, which over time you would have to unlock via winning races.

The characters in this classic racing game are possibly the reason why i loved the game so very much. I think i could name you them all today even though i've not played the game for over ten years. There were familiar characters such as Diddy Kong (From Donkey Kong Country) Crunch (Also from the same title) Conker (From Conkers Quest & Conkers Bad Fur Day) and the ever recognisable Banjo (From the hit N64 classic Banjo Kazooie which is another game i'd like to review soon). Each track in game was littered with power-ups too use mid race to thwart your rivals with a whole host of different weapons too collect throughout the track, although all in all they were very much the same as Mario Kart.

The fact that in Diddy Kong Racing you would race on unique tracks that relied a certain vehicle made this game stand out for me as it was exciting to get out of the standard go-kart style car and get into a Plane or a Hovercraft, especially in multiplayer where you could all drive something different. Another thing that made DKR different from Mario Kart was the fact at the end of each set of races you would have a boss fight which didnt include racing at all, but instead you would have too complete certain tasks against other computer controlled players in a certain ammount of time and be the last player standing in for example collecting dinosaur eggs.

All in all this game is bloody brilliant! It had some of the most aesthetically pleasing graphics for a Nintendo 64 game and had a whole host memorable characters and tracks which i can still picture today. Countless hours of my childhood were wittled away whilst playing this game and to be quite honest i'd go back and do it again! As back then i was too young and naive to beleive that i had to complete the game and i'd just have fun messing about racing random tracks all day. Now i've got the urge to challenge myself again and complete it all . . . So watch out Diddy Kong, i'm coming for you soon.

Ovcrall Grade: A+

Friday, 2 September 2011

Sucker Punch (2011) - Zach Snyder

Zack Snyder, director of the ridiculously thrilling and over the top blockbusters 300 and Watchmen makes his impact on this summers box office in only a fashion he can deliver, with Sucker Punch not at all surprising me with its quirky and unconventional scenes that thrilled and dulled the senses throughout.

Before watching the film, i genuinly hadnt looked into it at all, as far as i knew it was a film about a young woman who had been put into a mental institution by her abusive against her will and that was the plot as a whole. How shocked was i when the humerously over the top but awesome fight scenes begun out of nowhere which involved matrix style fight scenes and scantilly clad beautiful women.

The film takes the audience on a pyshcological rollercoaster with the first twenty or so minutes barely containing any dialogue and coming across as a gritty, grainy and quite frankly depressing peice movie, only for the viewer like stated earlier to be forcefully dragged into over the top and ridiculous scenarios with Snyder drawing inspiriation and motives from several video games and movies from popular culture (Prince of Persia, Call of duty, Half-life, Lord of the rings and Star wars). As impressive as these scenes were early on the further into the film we get the more predictable they become. Everything i expected to happen seconds before it happened, came true.

Its fair too say the concept and idea of the film is an incredibly good, original idea but sadly somewhere along the line it lost its way massively, it was far too much of a mish-mash of confusing and unanswered plotholes that should of been covered early on in the movie and far far too much cliché.

At times i enjoyed this film, mainly early on, but as appealing as a bunch of beautiful young women kicking ass in a humerous over the top nature is, it was a poor film, worth a watch perhaps but only a one time rental or online as its not worth buying on dvd.

Overall Grade: D+

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Chase and Status - No more Idols [Album Review]

Chase and Status have just about made themselves a household name this summer with some huge hits coming from the two man drum'n'bass maestros who have collaborated with a whole host of huge artists over the last year or so with names such as Plan B, Rihanna, Kano, Dizzee Rascal, Nero and Tinie Tempah each collab churning out hit after hit that has its own specific fusion of two genres put together with finesse for example the track Hypest hype with Tempah T fuses grime and drum'n'bass to make a catchy tune you might just find yourself singing along too with your mates in the car and shouting TEMPPPPPPPPPPPPPPSS on a drunken nights out.

No more Idols is such a diverse album you're never spoilt for choice with the tracks included, the listener is always kept on their toes from start to finish, the solo artists on the tracks alone are enough to pull in a vast audience to the album.

With the rise of these drum'n'bass giants perhaps the definitive era of the genre is back once again rearing its once ugly head since its heydays in the 1990s if the London pair continue to follow the path they're walking on now making tracks with top class artists and headlining festivals like they've been doing of recent they're soon going to find themselves on top of the music world in a very short ammount of time. All in all i've given this album a bloody brilliant rating purely for the fact i absolutely hated Chase & Status until i took the time to fully listen through this album.

Overall Grade: A-

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) - Rob Marshall

Jack Sparrow and a few old friends return for the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga, this time the ever charismatic 'Captain' Jack Sparrow with his ever so ruthless wit is in the hunt to find the fountain of youth, although of course nothing involving Cap'n Jack is ever so straightforward.

In this fairly long winded episode we begin with our typical escape scene we've become so ever used too at the beginning of these films, where Jack is in some sort of ridiculous situation, this time he's posing as a court judge to help rescue his old friend the ever-present Mr. Gibbs. Obviously as stated earlier nothing is straight forward for our blundering hero, who tends to never get things right on the first attempt, he finds himself in the King of England George II (Played by Richard Griffiths) with orders to assist his old first mate supposedly turned good Captain (Now Privateer) Barbossa too go seek the fountain of youth before the Spanish do as it enrages the king that perhaps Catholics may get there first, que the classic Pirates of the Caribbean themetune as jack hacks and slashes his way out of the situation in ever commical and stylish fashion refusing to assist the king and Barbossa.

Instead we find Jack re-united with former love interest Angela (Played by Penélope Cruz) who we the audience are to beleive there has been a passionate history between, although just like Captain Blackbeard (Played brilliantly by Ian McShane) its a little bit flat between the three and i myelf struggled too feel any connection. Now Jack finds himself upon Blackbeards ship against his will in the hunt for the Fountain of youth (For Blackbeards own personal use) which has turned into a three horse race between the Spanish, The England led by Barbossa and Blackbeards crew with of course deadly consequences.

In my opinion the film itself was enjoyable like its latter three releases, although i can find more flaws in this edition of the sequel than any of the others, at over 2 hours long i found myself wondering how long till it ended as there were points where it seemed to drag on, there is a notable lack of action scenes unlike the previous three which was missed and most dissapointingly there a lot less of Jacks ridiculously funny comedy moments as the plot is thick with new cast members each with seperate stories jack inclusion seems a tiny bit less important.

As per usual though, i'm always going to reccomend you give this a watch, its enjoyable of course but there were times where i wished for the inclusion of Keira Knightly and Orlando Bloom who for me along with Depp make this film the success it is.

Overall Grade: C+

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Football Manager 2011 [Game Review]

If you're thinking of buying this game albeit the 2011 version or the 2012 one set to be released in not to distant future prepare to kiss goodbye to your social life, because football manager will consume everything in its bask of nerdy simulation glory, trust me i know. The majority of my first year at university was spent either getting drunk or being sat around the kitchen table with my mates trash talking eachother and bragging about how our teams are better than eachothers . . . Of course i started as MK Dons, so naturally my team sucked.

The game is a long long throw away from its original heydays of Championship manager from the 90s in FM2011 there are over 50 nations, 100 leagues and thousands upon thousands of players as well as the the little polished touches such as real life journalists and media publications. Its fair too say the game itself is pretty complicated to the football management newcomer, but it only takes a few hours of play to get into the swing of things, and once you have gotten into that swing the game grips you like a drug addiction.

The biggest problem i found upon starting this game was that there is so much choice i struggled to pick a time to begin with and like myself, its likely that you're going too struggle to find a team you feel comfortable with for a while and you may find yourself restarting a few times. Once you have found the team you intend to take onto glory (For example lets say i took Charlton Athletic) the game begins in pre season, where you find yourself with a set ammount of funds from your chairman and you have a month or so to improve your team with signings, set tactics for the upcoming season and play in some friendlies. Which to a seasoned football manager veteran, can get a little bit boring after the first 10 pre seasons. It could take up to an hour alone for pre season to be over and done with once all the tweaking has been completed before you even play your first league match. And a good few days to a week to complete your season if you're truely dedicated too seeing your team acheive promotion and the time put in is truely worth it.

The 3D match engine is a vast improvement on past football manager titles where for each match your team would a set of coloured blobs running around the pitch which was uglier than a league 2 tuesday night fixture in november, although its nothing to write home about and it'll be interesting to see how it is improved upon soon enough. Notable flaws for me were the tedious press confrences, before and after each match, i found myself answering the same questions week in week out and i ended up sending my assistant manager to deal with them, which doesnt always work out for the best.

Football Manager as per usual though rises above its flaws and continues to take the gaming world by storm cementing it place as number one for simulation and management games out there today. I highlyhighly reccomend you buy this from the steam store or from a retail outlet on the cheap now the new title is coming out soon if you're curious about the series but not too sure. I myself intend to devote many more depressingly commited hours too seeing my Derby County side fail in game and in real life only resulting in multiple counts me quitting the game and restarting in a nerdy rage and i hope i've given you the push in the right direction to joining the wonderful nerdy world of Football Management.

Overall Grade: A+

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Despicable Me (2010) - Chris Renaud

From the moment the movie began i found myself with a goofy grin slapped across my face as this feel good animation about a career super villain named Gru (Steve Carell is his voice actor) who resides in his secret lair (Situated in an suburban american housing estate no less white picket fence and all) had me laughing at every silly joke thrown at us, jokes mainly set up by the wonderful little yellow 'tic-tac' like creatures who act as Gru's personal minions.

Unfortunately for Gru a new super villain hits town 'Vector' and it is more or less evident to the super villain world that Gru is aging and past it, so much so that the bank of evil rejects his pleas for a loan which would of allowed him to forfill his childhood dreams and go to the moon ... and then consiquently steal it! In order to gain the loan he so desperately needs for his evil scheme he needs to steal the coverted shrink ray, which he does indeed manage for all of two minutes when his younger counterpart Vector steals it from him in his plan to steal Gru's thunder.

After failed attempts to get back his so desperately needed shrink ray he comes up with the genius idea of using Vectors love for cookies too get back the most valuable of possesions by adopting three adorable orphan girls who he plans using to get his way into Vectors lair, although of course it isnt all that easy in a fun filled 95 minutes we see Gru warm to the children in a realisation that fatherhood is quite his style.

This is a feel good film that had me smiling from start to finish, especially with the brilliant voice acting from Steve Carell and Russell Brand (For the part of Dr Nefario). All in all it had the feel of a Pixar movie even though it perhaps wasnt the most original of films, i felt that i this is a film that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike and is defiently worth a watch!

Overall Grade: B-

WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 [Game Review]

The ever popular WWE Smackdown vs Raw series is back for its 12th installment this year and like anything thats getting on in age, tiredness and wear and tear begin to show. The game itself is as per usual a great addition to the franchise but like time and time again we're greeted with the same glitchy mechanics and positioning system that has plagued the series for so long.

With each new WWE release per year we expect a new breath of life to be given to the franchise which in fairness THQ & Yukes have noteably given it a shot this time round, but not to the extent we would of liked to have seen. It seems to most of us that they've just slightly updated SVR 2010s winning formula which isnt always a bad thing. The game includes 70 wrestlers which leaves us more than spoilt for choice when it comes to taking on friends in the one of the tons of gamemodes offered, although a fair few of the wrestlers will need to be unlocked from Road to wrestlemania mode and WWE Universe.

If you're yet to play this series you will be asking yourself, what the hell is WWE Universe? Well, Universe is a combination of career mode and exhibition mode which is basically a never ending calender of matchups that you can edit to your desire. You make the matchups on Raw, Smackdown or Superstars. You cant just decide hey, i want The Undertaker to be the new Heavyweight champion you have to make each superstar earn the title by booking them in matches each week forcing them to climb their way to the #1 contenders spot, which when the time comes for that superstar to take their title shot at a pay per view event there is more of a feeling of acheivement afterwards. This and the highly in depth create modes (i.e. Create a superstar, finisher, entrance and cutscenes) make this installment one of the most immersive to date.

As for the Road to Wrestlemania mode if truth be told i wasnt a huge fan, i much prefered the older SVR titles in which i could play as any superstar and follow one of a few paths throughout the game. Thats not to say i didnt enjoy certain wrestlers RTWM campaigns most notably Chris Jerichos, but i felt that the free roaming backstage was ridgid and very samey if at all necessary. I've not got much else to say with regards to this gamemode.

Growing up watching the WWE and playing the games i'll always have that nerdy little love for the series of games and television show so i'm naturally going to suggest to you all that this game is a must buy, especially if you're one of those gamers who likes to sit down with your mates and immerse yourselves in a bit of mindless and ridiculous gaming in which you see a 300+ pound man jump from the top of a steel cell only to miss and faceplant the mat below.

Overall Grade: B-

Monday, 29 August 2011

David Guetta - Nothing But The Beat [Album Review]

Entrepreneur of the decks, David Guetta the frenchman who has lit the music industry on fire in the last few years churning out hit after hit thats been popular on mainstream radio and in clubs consistantly, a feat that in the long run hasnt been matched by anyone, Guetta truely is the best in the trade. In recent times Guetta has moved onto bringing out dance hits with more of an urban edge about them which is very much evident in his latest album (released today) Nothing But The beat.

Nothing But The Beat features a whole host of high profile r&b/Hip-hop artists that are all held in high prestige, looking at the tracklistings and seeing collaborations with artists such as Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, Snoop Dogg, Usher, Will-i-am, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Akon, Jessie J, Jennifer Hudson, Timbaland, Afrojack and Sia you know you're in for a treat if you're into the Urban-dance hits that Guetta is becoming more and more renowned for.

All of the tracks on the first cd of this album seem like they could be singles of their own which is brilliant for Guetta and the fans of course, their are even songs on the album which i could see doing veryvery well if released, for example one that took me surprise was Titanium ft. Sia. Given a bit more edge and spice this could be a top track in the future. The tracks Disc 2 of this album is pretty much what you would expect of a Guetta track each sound like they would fit nicely in a crowded nightculb although they sadly dont have the edge unlike the vocal tracks on the first disc which is fairly understandable.

All in all its a quality album, although personaly i beleive theres a little bit too much crammed in at times that doesnt seem like it should be on the album (Mostly disc 2). All that being said i'm most likely being very biased as i'm a true lover of the Guettas previous albums which included more club hits rather than the urban hits featured in Nothing But The Beat.

Overall Grade: C+

Final Destination 5 (2011) - Steven Quale

This is the fifth installment of the highly acclaimed horror franchise final destination, both loved and despised by movie goers alike, just like its counterparts in the genre, Saw and Scream who both also have had long and succesful franchises, although it Final destination follows the same concept throughout all five of their films they do so with a creative premise unlike most horror flicks.

The movie begins with the obvious stiff and ridgid character development in which we get to know who we're too root for and hate throughout the film, as well as of course the traditional Final destination 'vision' scene in which we see the main character vision the huge disaster about to fall upon them all. Its not until a fair bit into the film that we really get into the flow of things and we are treated to some slow to build up but never the less, stomach turning death scenes.

In all truthfullness this film didnt do a very good job in comparison to its former films and at times i found myself cringing at some of the scenes, and of course the acting wasnt at all brillaint as the film never does cast high profile actors for their roles. But to any hardcore fan of the final destination series or occult horror series' in general this film is quite the delight, the director has stuck to his guns and has kept in some of the things that we've seen in all of the past films such as the subtle hints before something bad is going to happen, its the small things that make this movie worth it really (As well as the gruesome deaths obviously!).

As i was nearing the final ten-twenty minutes i discovered an absolutely huge plothole which ruined the final scenes for me and it absolutely drove me nuts, but i'm not going to reveal that here so that the film isnt ruined for anybody else. But never fear just as i was ready to write a scaving review on how much this annoyed me and brought the film in my estimations there was light at the end of the tunnel, there is an absolutely HUGE twist at the end of the film which had me gasping in delight, i would reccomend you watch this film but dont expect to love it if you're not a huge fan of the franchise already.

Overall Grade: C-

Rugby World Cup 2011 [Game Review]

As a huge rugby fan myself this game has been a cause of excitement for some months as its a very long time since a rugby game has been released on a console since the days of the original xbox, upon release day i made sure i had a copy of the game, sadly though i've been hardly impressed by the long awaited titile.

Like many other rugby and gaming fans, i feel slightly robbed by Hb studios and 505games, all in all it seemed like a 'lite' version of the real game as there is a HUGE lack of content unlike previous titles which included Tri-Nations, Six-Nations and the Super 15. This title unfortunately only offers the world cup mode and warm up tour mode which is essentially the same thing.

Another fault to add the endless list of faults that unfortunately come with this game is the liscencing, the front cover of the games box has the IRB logo on it which is heavily misleading as the Australian and New Zealand teams are not licensed and the players for a whole host of lesser teams are not real. (Only 10 out of a possible 20 teams are licensed) Other than the pretty neat HD graphics and average commentry this game has nothing to offer and left me with a very bitter taste in my mouth. Surely its only a matter of time before the rugby community receives a good game to rival footballs FIFA?

We can only hope ...

Overall Grade: D-

Fable 3 [Game review]

Fable 3 is Lionheads third installment to the ever popular series that allows the player to pick between vast moral choices which influence the games outcome in all of the series' titles. Of course this game was always going to an excellent well thought out masterpeice which has been highly anticipated by the gaming community ever since completing the flawless Fable II (Which has to be possibly be one of my all time favourite games).

The game picks up 50 years since the end of the Fable II in the middle of what seems to be an industrial revolution ruled by Tyrant king who happens to be the games heroes brother. You play as either a prince or princess whos job it is to unseat the unpopular tyrant king by amassing an army from across Albion by slowly gaining the trust of each induvidual group of people by completing various quests for them.

The game is split into several different parts in which you see your character develop throughout growing in stature, popularity and strength. You are joinined in the game by several key characters which are by your side pretty much throughout the whole storyline, most notably Walter (your partner who slides in and out of the game often) and your ever loyal butler Jasper (Voiced by the brilliant John Cleese). The game does include a variety of exciting and not so exciting quests, the latter being your average collect x or kill x ammount of whatever, although we are also treated some brilliant quests injected with humour for example one in which you are shrunk and sent into a group of medival nerds dungeons and dragons style board game which includes brilliant voice acting (Which fable is noted for in all of its games) and several pop culture references.

The combat system in game though sadly is fairly basic and knocks the game down a peg or two in my opinion. You are restricted to one combat attack, one ranged attack and one magic attack which is a huge shame as in previous Fable games you could use several attacks which made for exciting combat, wheras here it gets boring quickly. My only other complaint about the game is despite its great storyline and side quests it all seems pretty linear, the story is so intense at times that i felt rushed to follow and complete the storyline rather than explore towns buy propertys and customise my character which made Fable 1 & 2 so exciting.

All in all though, i highly reccomend the purchase of this game if a strong storyline with beautiful scenery a great soundtrack, humerous voiceacting and a good few hours of immersive play coupled is what you're looking for.

Overall Grade: B-

Passion Pit - Manners [Album Review]

Electro-Indie is one of the evergrowing genres to grace our soundwaves in recent years with bands and artists such as Klaxons, MGMT, Darwin Deez and Tokyo Police Club hitting a global audience with some great anthems that have really stood out in a crowd of ever growing diversity on the music scene.

Passion Pit are one of the newcomers from the US who have popped up in three or so years who formed after Michael Angelakos created a few tracks for an EP on his laptop which he made as a belated valetines gift for his girlfriend, after several gigs around Boston and the addition of a few bandmembers their tracks were picked up by record label Frenchkiss and they've never looked back since.

Their debut album Manners which has blown people away have had additional exposure with their most popular hit Sleepyhead being used in several television shows and adverts (Most notably used in an episode of Skins and for the littlebigplanet 2 advert) and several more of the albums songs have been used in hit television shows such as Ugly Betty and Gossip Girl.

The Albums melodic and chilled out tracks may seem very familiar to any fan of MGMT as in my opinion they very much sound the same although Passion Pits songs somewhat have a consistancy throughout the album with each eighties inspired track flowing into eachother wonderfully. I'm struggling to find a word that could describe this album as its such an awesome flow of emotion and brilliance as stated in several other reviews of this album. I think i'd describe it as a 'Group-hug' it's an album filled with feel good tracks that put a bit of colour into todays music linear industry.

Overall Grade: A

Sunday, 28 August 2011

West Is West (2010) - Andy De Emmony

Its taken over a decade for this belated sequel to hit 1999 film East is East to reach our cinemas and homes, a film infact that i wasnt aware even existed until i came across it by accident in my local blockbusters yesterday, which to my delight i imediately made sure i took it home too watch straight away as i only recently watched and reviewed East is East and i absolutely loved it!

Initially you would expect the film to be just as hard hitting and pressing on the subject on the way Islamic familys and other ethnic identidies got along in the 1970's as this film is set 5 years from its prior, in 1976 a time which still saw huge struggles for many from a different background. The film follows George Khan the father of the family try drags his son Sajid (the only child left the Khan's Salford household, as the rest have since flown the nest) off to Pakistan for what was presumably a holiday to meet the Pakistani side of his family and open his eyes to his heritage.

The viewers (and of course Sajid) are snatched from within their comfort zones of the bleak rainy Salford terraced housing estates and are thrown into the colourful, eye opening country that is Pakistan a whole world away from England in so many ways. In this film we meet Georges bitter and submissive first wife and his extended family who George left behind 30 years ago and never looked back, which brings great shame upon himself for doing.

In comparison to East is East this is much more of a serious film and there are far less comedic moments aside from the odd one or two as well as a fair few culture clash moments which come later on in the film. The cinematography in this film is visually stunning and the soundtrack gives the it that extra edge, kudos to De Emmony for what he has achieved with this film.

Overall Grade: B-

Garry's Mod [Game review]

Take any of your typical half-life characters and throw them into the middle of a field with a homemade rocket ship built out a shopping trolley to his left and a pile of corpses surrounded by burning watermelons and you have your typical foray into the sandbox mode of Garrys mod, a game developed by Garry Newman and released by Valve which allows you to do litteraly whatever you want with no boundries.

Garry's Mod is basically a usermade group of tools which allows you to edit your own game in anyway you can imagine, which when left to the imagination of a group of friends can be anything as spectacular as a whole city built down to a tee for the thousands of avid gamers to explore and wreck havock in or it could be a simple and silly as making two zombies look as if they're being caught in the most crude of situations thanks to Garry's Mod ragdoll manipulation tools.

Tools included in the sandbox gamemodes (Singleplayer & Mutliplayer) are vast an exciting to use, on my first play through on the single player sandbox i found myself spawning a handful of NPC's (None player character) and attaching ballons too them so that they float high up into the air, only for me to pull our a rocket launcher seconds later and blast them back down to earth in glorious fashion. Garry's Mod pretty much allows you to play god which as stated earlier, can lead to hillarious and horrific consequences.

Its in its Multiplayer modes that the game really comes into its own though, i've had this game for just under a month now and i've barely seen ANY of the content. There are an incredible ammount of game modes and maps to explore. Some of the main gamemodes are DarkRP (Servers that allow you to take a specific job and play out your characters profession in an enviroment set by the person who made the server for example, Fallout RP is a HUGE map that pretty much mimics that of Fallout New Vegas). Other gamemodes i've come across so far are Trouble in terrorist town (A deathmatch style game in which the players must work together via use of their microphones to determine who the spy is stealthily killing all the other players on the map) and Bunnyhop (A gamemode in which you have to jump across various items to in a certain ammount of time without falling into the water/lava).

Obviously there are a whole ton of gamemodes you can play but i shall only mention one last one as personally i've found it to be initiative and truely brilliant, GMOD Theater. This is basically a giant cinema you can walk around with other people in game and watch Youtube videos in one of the screens, players request what everyone watches and you have the power to vote to skip a video if its not to your taste. I found it an incredibly weird experienc watching Shaun of the dead with 30 other people in an online cinema at once whilst talking about it at the same time, it was one of my online gaming highlights so far (Nerd alert)!

I highly highly reccomend to everybody that you purchase this game some time in your life whilst you still have the time to play, for all the content you should purchase Garry's Mod in a bundle from the STEAM Store with Counter Striker: Scource, Half life or Left for dead.

Overall Grade: A++