The big e3 2017 report


Well once again the biggest date on the gaming calendar, the e3 gaming convention in Los Angeles … has come and gone, and so what have the big names had to offer us feverish gamers?  Let’s find out…

E3-2016

Sony

God of War KratosI didn’t watch the whole briefing, but have learnt they showcased several games, some of which interest me some that don’t at all (Gran Turismo Sport … yawn, I became bored of that series a while back).  I am however looking forward to God of War and the new Spider-Man game looks impressive.  Days Gone, one of the most anticipated games of last years e3 had another showing and again wowed.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see they’re going to be releasing a Shadow of the Colossus remake.  Detroit: Become Human looked interesting but I’m not sure exactly what it is still.

However there was a strong focus on VR (which I can’t say interests me at all) like they were desperate to flog this expensive and gimmicky peripheral, and some of the newest most interesting looking games were for VR which was disappointing.  They also had a large presence of third party titles like Call of Duty WWII and Destiny 2, both of which looked decent.   There seemed a serious lack of firm release dates for all these titles overall which wasn’t good.  Overall some good stuff but not a lot to really blow me away this year.

Microsoft

The Xbox guys had some new hardware to showcase, making their briefing more exciting than Sony’s from the off and the uber-powerful Xbox One X certainly looked cool.  I’m an Xbox fan first and foremost these days and I was anticipating the reveal of the previously hyped Xbox Scorpio and like the new name.  Microsoft predictably showcased Forza 7 running on it and also showed off a new game in the acclaimed Metro series as well as my personal highlight of e3; Bioware’s stunning looking Anthem.  Sea of Thieves was looking better than previous but I’m still on the fence over whether I’d enjoy it all that much myself.

Xbox One X

They also showed off a ton of indy games but not many big name exclusives to get all that excited about.  No Halo, no Gears for example which although not surprising could have really added to the whole new hardware reveal and made it all that more sexy.  It was a bit of a case of quantity over quality but games like Ori and the Will of the Wisps still looked great.  Like Sony before it though it’s hard to really be all that confident in the games from an XB1 and PS4 owner’s point of view actually looking anywhere near as good as we’ve been shown due to the new PS4 Pro and Xbox One X consoles, meaning us existing console owners potentially being left short handed in time to come, which I’d say is inevitable.

Nintendo

Super Mario OdysseyNintendo’s segment was initially short and to the point, showcasing only a handful of titles but with some exciting announcements.  The biggest surprise here was Metroid Prime 4, an game I’ve personally been hoping for, and despite no actual footage, it’s got me feeling happy I own a Nintendo Switch.  To further cement this feeling we had reveals of new Kirby and Yoshi platformers which both looked great as well as further details on Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and especially Super Mario Odyssey.  The Tree House segment that ran over three days and was broadcast live on YouTube also showed longer gameplay of some of the aforementioned titles like Yoshi and Mario Odyssey and well, I was left drooling.

There was something immediately alluring about Nintendo’s games … they all looked a ton of fun, and well, fun is something that has gradually been getting replaced in the games industry for a while now, in place of realism – which it has to be said can make a game feel more like work than leisure.  Third-party support still seems Nintendo’s Achilles heel, and well there was Fifa and Rocket League announced which I suppose is a start.

There were absences of expected or hoped for titles to be mentioned for all three companies’ machines with no Animal Crossing or Virtual Console talk from Nintendo, no Halo, Gears or much in the way of big name exclusives from Microsoft and well, where was PS4 exclusives Hellblade or the Final Fantasy VII remake this year?  Overall each company had something to offer and as someone with all three consoles, there was certainly something to play on each machine for the foreseeable future, which can’t be a bad thing.

Small changes and self-therapy


I was recently watching a YouTube video on a particular method of over-coming or lowering the effects of depression by female journalist, gamer and games-journalist Julia Hardy; someone I’ve enjoyed the videos of and also feel talks a lot of sense.  You can find the actual video I watched below:

It got me thinking about some of the things I do in life that don’t exactly enhance or better how I felt about myself and my life as whole but are simply addictions or habits I’ve fallen into just because it’s the society norm to do so.  One such thing is ‘social media’ and platforms like Twitter and Facebook.  Both have their uses and places in our modern society, but are also places that can paint a very artificial and heightened version of reality that isn’t entirely ‘real’ and can create images of other people’s lives that can be detrimental to how I might view my own, be it on a conscious or sub-conscious level.  So I took the advise of this video and chose to stay away from all forms of social media for 24 hours.  The results?  It felt a little cold-turkey, as I still wanted to check my phone but struggled (yet succeeded) in not doing so.  Finding more interest in other activities like watching a movie or playing a video game and being able to focus better on said activities whereas normally I’d be checking my Facebook or Twitter every couple of minutes.  I had previously realised but more so with this little experiment that I had become rather obsessed with checking these apps even when there was nothing new to look at.  Browsing through them with little or no interest in what I was looking at, but having to look at it any way.  So I’m going to attempt to take longer breaks between looking at social media…posting far less on them or interacting with them.  Enjoying what they have to offer in a more controlled, less addicted way.  Well that’s at least the theory.

I’ve said before on this blog that I do to an extent suffer from depression.  It’s been hard to really understand myself but a general feeling of ‘disconnect’ and feeling ‘lost’ amongst the people around me is a contributing factor, unable to always ‘engage’ or feeling like I’m putting an ‘act’ on sometimes.  I thoroughly enjoy my job, my friends, work colleagues and family, but also sometimes feel completely out of place.  It’s a very inward feeling and has little to do with anyone in particular.  That might be a common theme amongst those with anxiety and depression, even though I’ve never been officially diagnosed (for me that would make it too much of a ‘thing’).  Sometime last year I realised that the only way to feel happy is to take more control of my life, not be afraid to do things (although I’m still like that) and motivate myself to buy that thing, go to that place and enjoy that activity, even if it’s by myself.  I realise I do a great deal of the things I enjoy solitary, and that can get me down but it’s also a frame of mind and trying to accept that and enjoy one’s solidarity can be liberating, whilst also probably realising that joining in and being a part of someone else’s activity is just as important.  One of the reasons I tend to involve myself in work’s nights outs or activities with friends, as infrequently as these things crop up – I feel it’s something I need to do otherwise it’s always just me.

I’ll continue to watch videos like the one above for some self-help and hope to experience a different, less introverted way of thinking.  It’s probably always going to be an on-going issue for me, but one I’m determined to explore more and understand.

Craig.

Peaking at the Garbage


See what I did there?  Yes, this post is primarily about two big loves of mine…Twin Peaks and the rock band Garbage.  First more of an update on what’s going on with my favourite band.  Firstly they are working on new music!  This is reported to be a song they hope to release in time for a forthcoming tour.  Shirley Manson, lead singer and general all-round bad-ass, has also contributed her vocal talents to the soundtrack of TV show ‘American Gods’ with a song she worked on with composer Brian Reitzell (Hannibal, 30 Days of Night) called ‘Queen of the Bored’ and well, it’s super cool.  Video-link below:

GirlsRockLondon ShirleySecondly Shirley is visiting London to attend the summer-camp music school for girls known as ‘Girls Rock London‘ as a Patron giving talks I presume on what it’s like to be a woman in the music business, conveying her 30+ years experience to the attendees.  Should be very interesting.  Here’s a picture of her as posted by the event organisers.  Yeah, she’s looking great as usual.  Now as mentioned earlier the band are preparing to go out on tour – with none other than legendary band ‘Blondie’ for the rockingly-titled ‘Rage & Rapture Tour’ which kicks off in July.  Around the same time the band will also be releasing their autobiography entitled ‘This Is The Noise That Keeps Me Awake’ … so an eventful time for Garbage and a great time to be a fan of this pioneering and acclaimed band.  Although they seriously don’t get the recognition they deserve these days; even 20+ years after they began, Garbage don’t answer to nobody and do their own thing, their own way … which is pretty damn cool.

Twin Peaks

On the TV front of course the big event has been the (very) long awaited return of Twin peaks – you know, that quirky little soap opera about a murdered girl that ran in the early nineties, got cancelled after it’s second season and also spawned a (mostly) reviled movie that later gained cult appeal.  Now it’s back and if you thought the original was ‘a bit weird’ … well, David Lynch, series creator and all-round genius (or madman, I’m undecided) has been let off his leash and delivered possibly the strangest, darkest, freakiest and most daring TV show in years.  I’ve watched 3 episodes so far of the 4 that have been revealed, and even though I’m loving it as a Lynch aficionado – it’s also really messed with my head and I can certainly understand if even die-hard Peaks fans could get turned off.  Just watch it though – you just have to give it a go and make your own mind up.  It’s that kind of experience.  Even if you end up not liking it.

To celebrate the release of Twin Peaks, I also picked up the newly-restored version of Lynch’s Oscar-winning surreal drama Mulholland Drive and will be watching and reviewing it soon, so watch out for that.

Well that’s all from me for now.  Check in again soon and I’ll have more stuff to show you…probably.

Craig.

State of play


Regular readers of this blog will have observed I haven’t been posting many reviews of late.  Well, I’ve simply not been watching that many movies and concentrating, entertainment-wise more on videogames, what with recently buying the Nintendo Switch and having a great deal of fun with it.  Even my Xbox One and PS4 have become a little neglected as a result, even though I have been playing Persona 5 on the PS4 recently and getting some fun out of that.

Nintendo_Switch

Firstly I’ll report how much I’m enjoying the versatility of the Switch.  That simple idea of being able to play it like other consoles on my TV, and then being able to take that experience mobile and go play it wherever I like portably.  It’s pretty revolutionary and I’m guessing the big reason the console has been selling like hot cake since launch.  A month on I’ve clocked in over 60 hours in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and also had fun playing Graceful Explosion Machine and most recently, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.  To a lesser extent I’ve found indie titles like Snake Pass and Mister Shifty, intriguing but somewhat flawed and very frustrating.  However I’m mostly aiming that at Snake Pass which I doubt I’ll even pick up again it annoyed me so much.

Persona-5Going back to Persona 5 for a moment, I craved a traditional JRPG and with it’s lush anime style visuals and quirky personality, I jumped on this with excitement.  The opening hours though are very slow, dialogue driven and well, not much action and I could see it putting some people off.  However having stuck with it after what seemed to be a lengthy tutorial, the game did open up, the exploration restrictions and focus on dialogue relaxed a little and I could get more into the world, the game mechanics and the general vibe.  I cleared the first major mission after about 10 hours of game time and I’m intrigued to see where the story goes.  However it is a game that once you start playing, hours fly by and I realise I need to set some time aside each time I play to really get any progression done.  For now though I’m enjoying it.

Breath of the WildBreath of the Wild has been a massive, somewhat daunting experience but has all that unique Nintendo charm I’ve always admired, and this feels like the most fleshed-out and intricately detailed Zelda game I’ve played.  I wouldn’t call myself a Legend of Zelda aficionado by any stretch and have only really played through the Gameboy release ‘Links Awakening’ and the Gamecube game ‘Wind Waker’ whilst only slightly touching on ‘Twilight Princess’ back in the day, and although this has echoes of all those games, with an art style slightly resembling Wind Waker (but less kiddie more Ghibli), I have fallen in love with everything it has to offer.  Even 60 hours in I’m still finding new areas, uncovering side quests and well, have barely delved into the main missions (I’ve completed one ‘divine beast’ so far…) so still tons to do.  All I’ll say though now to conclude is that I’m very much impressed.

On the back burner some games have had to be placed.  It’s the nature of the beast I’m afraid owning three consoles now, and I need to focus on just a small amount or run the risk of getting bogged now with unfinished games.  So Dishonoured 2 which I’ve been really enjoying has had to be ignored for a bit, as has Watchdogs 2 and Mafia 3.  Phew that’s a lot of games but for now my time is best spent with Zelda and Persona, even though both games are reportedly so huge that It’ll be a while before I dive into much else.

Smaller games are an easy option though just for a bit of variety and some of those games, like Mario Kart and Graceful Explosion Machine are dip in and dip out experiences that I don’t need to dedicate hours.  I suppose I’m lucky to have the options that I have, and I don’t take any of it for granted even though I work hard to buy the things I enjoy.

My final thoughts on the above come down to one sentence:  It’s a great time to be a gamer.  Additionally I also have some movies I need to get reviewing so expect normal service to resume shortly.

That’s all from me for now.

Craig.

Anniversary Top Ten


With the advent of this blog’s ten year anniversary, I thought it’d be fun to compile a Top Ten based on the end-of-year Top Tens for all ten years of this blog (2007-2016).  So below you’ll find what I consider to be the best movies I’ve seen that were released in the last ten years or thereabouts.  I’ve taken into consideration that certain movies I originally loved have aged better than others and that I’ve also grown to appreciate certain movies more since I originally saw them.

Ten best movies of Craig’s Movie Report

1.  Black Swan

2.  The Dark Knight

3.  Pan’s Labyrinth

4.  Gran Torino

5.  Let The Right One In

6.  Birdman

7.  Django Unchained

8.  The Martian

9.  Looper

10.  Shutter Island