An update and stuff


So what have I been up to lately?  Well I managed to complete Assassin’s Creed Unity on the PS4, the first AC game I have ever kept interested in until the end.  Why?  I think setting was key.  Of the previous games in the series I have played, most have been set either in medieval (AC 1 & 2) or around the time of the crusades (AC 3) and well, the pirating of AC4 never appealed so I didn’t play that one.  However this one was set in Paris, during the revolution, the time of Napoleon etc. and it was a brilliantly atmospheric setting I personally have plenty of interest in. 

Secondly I have been playing Grand Theft Auto V.  Now eagle-eyed readers of this blog may recall me posting about it a while back when I got it on the Xbox 360.  Well, for one reason or another I didn’t play it all that much of it, and since jumping to the next-generation with the PS4 and Xbox One, I thought it was high time I took a second look following it’s revamped re-release on these consoles.  I picked it up on PS4, and must say for what is technically a last-gen title, the detail (with improved textures, lighting, effects as well as an enhanced array of music on the various radio stations) it’s one of the best looking games I have played to date.  GTA V is a fantastic game following the exploits of three characters; Michael the former gangster now in witness protection, Franklin the stereotypical gang-banger hoodlum and Trevor the meth-dealing lunatic.  The missions are cinematic and the world is alive and complex and massive.  There are a ton of things to see and do and it never feels boring.  I’m loving it.  Check out a few screenshots I took with the PS4 to show off how damn gorgeous this next-gen version looks in the flesh:

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On the gaming horizon (next Tuesday to be specific) is The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt.  A heavily hyped and very well reviewed game that I have pre-ordered for my Xbox One.  From everything I have read and seen, it’s sounding like it will be a mammoth RPG adventure to rival the likes of The Elder Scrolls and Final Fantasy, with you as a bad-ass monster hunter known as Garalt, who inhabits a huge world that is one of the biggest apparently ever made and full of detail, missions, characters and true next-gen visuals.  I have watched some gameplay and read several reviews, and suffice to say I am VERY excited.  Roll on May 19th … I’ll do an early impressions some time in the week.

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In other news, I’ve sadly not managed to secure a trip to the cinema to see The Avengers: Age Of Ultron yet and can see it being a Blu-ray review later in the year.  The same might go for Mad Max Fury Road, but I’m still optimistic about getting to see that one, so watch this space (and no, going by myself doesn’t appeal all that much).  I have a few movies on the agenda however, the names of which I’ll keep to myself for now and let you be surprised when I post the reviews.  Yeah, I’m all about the tease.

On the TV watching front I have been pretty addicted to Better Call Saul, that breaking Bad spin-off starring everyone’s favourite crooked attorney Saul Goodman (or Jimmy Magill as he’s currently known).  It seems to have all the polish and great writing of Breaking Bad (well, it is by Vince Gilligan after all) and just keeps getting better and better.  I’m also watching The Following season 3 (yeah, yeah I know…we’re not getting a season 4…boo hiss) which has again been brilliant this year.  Clearly there is no accounting for taste, so another show hits the skids.  Talking of TV, I’m also looking forward to season 3 of Orange Is The New Black, a show at first I wasn’t entirely sure was me … the first series was good but a little lightweight, but with an excellent and gripping season 2, I am now officially a fan.  Damn Netflix just keeps on giving, doesn’t it?  I am also watching Brit drama Luther on it at the moment which stars popular actor Idris Elba as a tough Police detective who specialises in catching serial killers – right up my alley.

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So other than the above, and getting over some man-flu and a tickly cough that just won’t quit … it’s been all about work, which is going very well.  I am learning some new stuff to do more with secretarial tasks and finding it challenging and educational.  Love it when my job gives me those opportunities to learn new skills and I think it helps build a real profile and shape me for the future.  I’m also of course still looking forward to finally seeing my favourite band Garbage in November when they appear at Brixton Academy in London.  It’s going to be such a once in a life time experience for me, someone who doesn’t really get such opportunities.  I have my big brother to thank for making this happen and with my 40th birthday very much right after, November is looking to be a real belter.

Well, enough from me for now.  Hope you’re all having fun in whatever you’re all up to and continue to check in on me and this blog regularly for more updates, reviews and gaming impressions.

Craig.

Catherine – impressions


This has to be one of the weirdest but most addictive games I have played in a long while.  Japanese developer Atlus have built a reputation out of releasing unusual but clever video games, and this is one of the first to gain a mainstream release (at least in the US … not currently available in Europe).  At its heart it’s a puzzle platformer, but it could also be taken as a dating sim as you play the role of Vincent, in a relationship with fashion designer Katherine, a hot business woman with dreams of settling down, getting married and having children.  Vincent isn’t quite as eager to settle down, and begins to experience nightmares revolving around his insecurities.  In these nightmares, he must climb a tower and reach the door at the top.  This is the meat of the game, with each tower full of traps and enemies.  Each tower is a box pulling / pushing puzzle and with a strict time limit, where in as you climb, the lower levels begin to fall away, and if you don’t hurry – you’ll fall to your death.

This is a very unique game, part RPG where in you can send and reply to texts on your phone, talk to people in a bar that you frequent, and follow the story through beautiful anime-style cut scenes.  The production values here are high, and the imagination is exceptional … it may not be to everyone’s taste, and compared to picking out the latest World War II shooter, some casual gamers may not even acknowledge it’s existence.  Yet I urge you to give it a chance, as unlike many games these days, it takes risks, is actually quite mature in its themes of commitment, adultery and sex, and is actually really fun, in a brain teasing, addictive way … meaning one more go is never enough.

I’m only a little way into it (Day 2 of 8 apparently) but so far am enjoying it.  It’s not easy, but this isn’t a game you just plough through … you need to learn it’s gameplay and master it to get anywhere, which is what I aim to do.

For the love of Mass Effect


 

Mass Effect 2 is the best game I have played in quite a long time.  It’s deep narrative, wealth of absorbing and always fun missions, cast of interesting and well-realised characters, and gameplay mechanics that blend straight forward arcade action with the complexities of RPGs, makes for one of the most fully rounded games I think I have ever got my hands on.  Following on from my initial, positive ‘impressions‘ a little while back, I have since played through the campaign and completed all side missions including downloadable content.  I must also salute the game’s art style, which although using Unreal Engine 3, felt much classier and stylish than you see in the likes of Bullet Storm or Gears Of War. 

To those unacquainted with the Mass Effect series, they are basically Star Trek the video game in all but name.  You start out creating your own character, then become the captain of a starship, and are sent on missions around a huge galaxy filled with planets where you can recruit new members of your crew, solve conflicts and take on evil races, such as the Geth and particularly this time around, the Borg-like Collectors.  The game’s RPG elements allow for branching conversation paths that lead to different outcomes depending on your answers to certain questions, which basically means a second or third play through could lead you into previously unseen situations.  I particularly liked how, whilst the game was challenging in parts, it was never too hard that I stopped enjoying myself, and with brilliant implementation of a cover system and generous checkpoints, this was always a pleasure and never a chore.  Now taking into consideration that I’ve never been able to complete an RPG before, shows that this game (with 37 hours clocked in by the time it ended) offered something games like Final Fantasy XIII or Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion clearly lacked.

If by some major oversite you haven’t played this game yet, I urge you to pick up a copy straight away – you won’t be disappointed.

Mass Effect 2 – impressions


What I played of Mass Effect 1, I enjoyed.  But something about it did not grab me like other cames can.  It was a little too slow, clinical and  old-fashioned, even though the concept was an intriguing one.  You see, the Mass Effect games are basically Star Trek in all but name.  You take control of the captain of a starship (replace Kirk for Sheppard, and the Enterprise for the Normandy) and travel the galaxy completing missions, hiring new crew members, and over  the course of the game building up your abilities and upgrading weapons, whilst following a deep and complex narrative. 

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