Update


I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, and not reviewed any movies for a few weeks (but have watched a couple – more on that below). Life gets in the way. Amongst other things, my focus has primarily been on my writing. Currently I have one novel published, Showdown In Los Angeles, and have been finalising the next three novels in the series, which I will publish over the next few months. My writing has been such a passion since I was young and I’ve written several stories, and these four I’m very proud of. I think they have good characters and some good situations, but the it the proof I’m sure for anyone interested will be in the reading. So by all means seek me out on Amazon, at the following link: Author https://www.amazon.com/stores/Craig-Micklewright/

Amsterdam

As said I’ve also been watching a few movies. First off was Wes Anderson’s The French Despatch (Good+) that whilst visually as clever and as captivating as The Grand Budapest Hotel, with a similar structure, I didn’t feel the individual stories were as enjoyable or the characters as rich. However likes of Benicio Del Toro and Adrian Brody still proved enjoyable. Next up was Amsterdam (Good) an enjoyable crime farce starring Christian Bale and Margot Robbie, which was fun and had entertaining characters, but it’s story wasn’t very engaging. Still, not as awful as some critics may have you believe.

On the horizon, I am intending to catch up a few movies, and mainly intend to watch (and review) Park Chan-Wook’s latest Decision to Leave, which I recently purchased on Blu-ray. So hopefully look out for that. Until then I’m also contemplating a new writing project, see how that fairs.

Craig.

Punishingly brilliant…


For the last few days, I have been playing the much anticipated Elden Ring. Developed by From Software, the team behind such cult hits as Dark Souls and Sakiro: Shadows Die Twice, they’ve once again delivered a tough-as-nails experience, this time given a huge open world to explore between your countess deaths. From Software’s style has certainly made me wary in the past, but I got to understanding the appeal of such games in the recent Demons Souls remake. That game is nails-hard, unfair and frustrating, but for some reason – still fun. The same can certainly be said here, and with the highly detailed open world to explore and a wealth of enemies to battle, there are always options, alternative routes and most importantly tons of exploration available.

A daunting world…

Unlike previous games from the developer, Elden Ring feels much more accessible, and not quite as intimidating. There is so much to see and do, it didn’t take long to pull me in. The world is equal parts eerie, magical and beautiful and even though the graphics are not that technically impressive, the art design shines through. The setting is comparable to The Witcher 3. The creature design is also top-notch and very imaginative … there’s some amazing work gone into this, especially when you discover the various bosses – and its difficult not to stand in awe – then die horribly.

The intricacy of the RPG elements should also be applauded. Granted the game doesn’t really do a great job of how it all works, but there are plenty of guides online, and I’ve enjoyed ploughing into tips and tricks to get the best weapons, level up my character the best way, get cool magic abilities and some badass weapons. I’ve sunk about twenty hours already into this and I am just so into this world, how it plays, the wealth of places to go, monsters to find and things to learn and get better at. It’s consumed much of my weekend I must admit, and I don’t regret a second of it. I’m having a ball, despite how challenging it can get. I’d say that’s testament a quality game; if you just love playing it and can’t wait to get back to it.

A must play.

Return to Night City


Recently I downloaded patch 1.5 for Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most heavily hyped and also heavily criticised games of the last few years. Patch 1.5 is the latest in a long list of updates the game has received since that disastrous launch in 2020, When the game came out it was a bit of a mess. I played on the PS5 which ran the PS4 version in backwards compatibility mode, and the experience, whilst playable suffered from frequent crashes that took you back to the PlayStation dashboard, plenty of glitches & bugs and despite a rather well written story with a memorable cast of characters, felt unfinished and not really fit for release.

Almost a year and a half later we now have the official next-gen (current gen) versions, available as free upgrades to owners of the PS4 and Xbox One versions, and comes with a suite of improvements, enhancements and quality of life upgrades. To put it short, this is the version the game should have released at launch. Immediately the game (I’ve been playing the PS5 version) is noticeably sharper, benefitting from not only a higher resolution (reportedly ‘dynamic’ 4K) but also higher-resolution textures. The game offers up two modes, ‘performance’ for a silky smooth 60fps, or ‘ray-tracing’ at 30fps. Having played about with both settings, I’ve kinda settled on ray-tracing as the world just looks better for it, and although the mode only effects shadow quality – when jumping back and forth from that mode to performance, the alternative looks a little less filmic, and comes off as a bit flat (albeit with the benefit of higher frame-rate). Whichever your preference, with improved crowd density over the PS4 version, far better A.I. for NPCs, vehicles, police, gangs – the game plays so much better. Another big bonus for me with this next-gen version is the implementation of the adaptive triggers on Sony’s Dual-Sense controller, making every weapon more punchy and adding weight snd heft to every vehicle. The controller’s speaker is also used, for such things as Keanu Reeve’s Jonny Silverhand talking to you.

Experiencing the world of Cyberpunk 2077 now has that wow factor it was always meant to have. It’s not without a few glitches still and I did get a crash to the dashboard once, but as a whole it just feels more polished and stable. The potential for this game was always huge and this version is closer than its ever got to realising that dream. Exploring the massive environment of Night City is simply awe-inspiring and even just walking around, interacting, going into buildings and just soaking up the atmosphere is a joy that’s now (mostly) uninterrupted by technical issues.

I hope CD Project Red have learnt from their mistakes and continue to support the game. It has too much going for it to just fade into obscurity snd there is clearly passion, love and real artistry gone into this, regardless of how marred it was at launch. Let’s try and focus on what it is now rather than what it was back then, because right now having sunk several hours into a new game (yes I restarted it) I feel hyped at the prospect of playing it again.

The game has a free 5 hour trial for anyone uncertain of picking it up. I’ll report back if I experience any alarming issues as I progress through the campaign … but for now this is one of the top-tier experiences you can get on PS5, Xbox Series X / S or PC.