Monday 30 November 2015

BlazBlue: Chronophantasma Extend

Developed by Arc System Works and out now on Playstation 4, Playstation 3, PS Vita and Xbox One, BlazBlue Chronophantasma Extend is not, as you may have thought, a random collection of letters that have accidentally formed one proper word. It is in fact the title of the latest entry in the BlazBlue series, a line of colourful anime-styled 2D beat em ups. Tekken and Streetfighter not bizarre enough for you? You've come to the right place!

There are a total of 28 fighters to choose from here, an odd mix of cliches and utterly unique ideas (with uniqueness dominating, to be fair). There's a shapeshifting ghost thing, a cyborg lady who can make swords appear out of thin air at both short and long distance, a chap with a huge sword and equally huge hair, some sort of cat-woman-thing with its face ominously hidden underneath a hood, and loads more. Series fans will recognise those descriptions straight away, and are quite possibly grinding their teeth at my refusal to use their proper names. Give me a break lads and lasses, I have to accommodate those unfamiliar with the series too!

This is a game with an immense amount of content and depth; certainly too much for me to more than dent here. As an example though let me talk about one of my favourite characters, Hazama. This evil hat-wearing chap (I don't think the hat is evil), like every other character, has a unique ability referred to as 'drive'. For Hazama this is his Ouroboros, a spectral chain that shoots out of his chest. He can still deliver bog-standard punches and kicks, but his Drive powers his playstyle. Hit an opponent with his chain, and you can pull yourself directly towards them. Or leap over them to land on the other side. Or leap directly above them, then cancel to deliver an aerial attack. Or immediately cancel the chain without moving, to launch into another attack altogether. Or maybe you've filled your Distortion Drive gauge sufficiently to launch a super-special attack, catching your opponent unawares from a distance. Mess up this or any other move though, and you leave yourself open to a potentially costly counter...

There are all sorts of gauges, techniques and gameplay facets to get your head round, but the excellent tutorial setup will walk you through everything brilliantly if you let it. Anybody familiar with modern beat em ups will already have a good idea of what to expect for the most part. This includes punishment for constantly blocking but not, unfortunately, something in place to punish or prevent cheesy spamming. This is great if you want to breeze through offline modes (unless you try the harder difficulties, which are bloody impossible so far as I can tell). Online, inevitably, there are more spam attackers than you'd like.

Actually finding an online match is a challenge in itself. The online scene for the Vita version is almost dead; and despite the PS3 & PS4 versions featuring online cross-play, the situation is only a little better there. It's a real shame because, as is the norm for BlazBlue, online fights tend to be just as smooth as offline ones. What isn't the norm for BlazBlue is terrible story modes (which incidentally, are oddly absent from the Vita). The dialogue in the main story here is absolutely bloody terrible, the returning 'Teach Me Miss Litchi!' is just kind of boring, and the new 'Remix Heart Gaiden' story is quite frankly embarrassing, encompassing as it does almost every cringe-inducing manga cliché that that some people think represents all such storytelling.

Despite the clear faults – not all of which are the game's fault – I still think this is a fantastic beat em up. That however is because I'm the sort of antisocial weirdo who's happy to play these games offline, with online being a nice bonus but not essential. That said, it's for the same reason that I'm so disappointed with the stories. 

Extend your cash to this one if you're happy to play alone. 4/5.


Luke Kemp

BlazBlue: Chronophantasma Extend at CeX

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Sunday 29 November 2015

Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition

Oh no. I have to review Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition without filling the entire page with  terrible jokes. You know, for example:

Who are you?

I am Death.

Oh, sorry. I SAID WHO ARE YOU?

And so on.

Heck, deal with it, they stuck a lame pun in the title themselves. Anyhoo, the Darksiders license was one of the franchises up for grabs when THQ went under during that unnerving period where loads of publishers and developers collapsed. Nordic Games were the ones to buy it, and the first use they’ve made of it is to bring the previous-gen sequel into 2015 with a ‘Deathinitive’ edition. Whereas the first game cast you as War, the second sees you as Death. You see? You see their clever joke now?

The first game pilfered from the Zelda games relentlessly, offering both dungeons and over-world sections; all filled with extremely satisfying combat, huge bosses, and a liberal sprinkling of puzzles. Darksiders II takes this template and expands on it, with the main influence here being modern Prince of Persia rather than Zelda. Therefore, Death – whose long hair and impossibly ripped body gives him the appearance of a goth sex symbol – can (and often will) wallrun, jump from beam to beam above bottomless pits, and climb straight up smooth walls. It’s a flashy traversal system that works very well (most of the time). The sense of freedom it gives you is somewhat deceptive, however; now and again you’ll attempt a jump that should work but doesn’t, because that’s not where the script expects you to go.

The grim reaper’s uncharacteristic athleticism carries over into combat. As pleasingly meaty as in the first game, you can almost feel every thump you deliver to the demonic miscreants. You’ll be dodging and jumping out of the way of attacks like some sort of miserable ninja, and some combos will even see you attack with unwarranted flamboyance. Fights are never a chore; but you’ll have to keep an eye on the loot that you pick up. There are loads of weapons to be had, and they vary in a variety of ways. Not just how easily they can crack heads but also the speed with which you can swing them; and some will buff stats, or have effects such as restoring some health with each kill. Similarly, pieces of stat-imbued armour can be found and equipped to make your badass Death even more badass. 

You’ll also earn XP and level up in the course of doing what Death does best, assigning points to a limited but interesting skill tree. Each point can be used to unlock a new skill or increase the power of one of your current ones. This, combined with the variety of weapons on offer, allows you to customise your playstyle to a certain extent. 

So: what does the current-gen version bring to the table? All DLC for a start, which equates to roughly three hours of extra content, which will bring your total playtime up to 20-25 hours at Normal difficulty. Speaking of difficulty there’s a new highest, though playing it isn’t going to be much fun for any but the most skilled/masochistic of gamers. Graphics have also been improved, as you’d expect – but it’s more of a dusting than a polish. It’s clearly a last-gen game. On top of that, the camera still misbehaves on occasions and, to be honest, the frame rate issues actually seem slightly worse than I remember them.

Despite the technical issues, it’s still a good game with an accomplished fantasy atmosphere. The level of improvement is disappointing; but if you missed this the first time around, it’s sensibly priced and includes all content to boot. Most importantly of all, it’s fun.

Toned Death. 4/5.


Luke Kemp

Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition at CeX

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Saturday 28 November 2015


In the 1970s, 80s and 90s; Al Pacino was a force to be reckoned with. The 70s brought us The Godfather, the 80s Scarface and the 90s Heat. But moving into the 2000s, his good work has been buried under his desperate, cringe worthy appearances in total shite which came to a depressing low point alongside Adam Sandler in Jack & Jill.  But after a brilliant performance in Danny Collins this year, here he is with another fine performance in David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn - out now on DVD & Blu-Ray. Pacino is BACK. But outside of his performance here, is there much else to recommend in Manglehorn? Is there much to even say? This could be a short review…

A.J. Manglehorn (Pacino) is a locksmith who lives alone with his cat Fanny and spends the majority of his time thinking about the past. He is an old man, existing rather than living, and melancholically stumbling and bumbling through his days with no purpose or future. He knows he is responsible for his misery, and that his mistakes have caused his loneliness. But he accepts he is too old to change it. It sounds depressing, and it sounds empty. In a way, it is. Manglehorn has no real plot or narrative drive. It’s more of a character study, a snapshot of an existence that although not based on a true story could easily be that old guy you see at the bus stop, or that old guy you saw in the park. Everyone has a story that made them alone, and this film reminds us that. 

The only way a film like Manglehorn could work is with a strong leading performance. Al Pacino is brilliant here, subtly and sensitively portraying elderly loneliness without resorting to being too cantankerous or grumpy like Bill Murray’s turn in St. Vincent. His inability to connect with anyone and his regret-filled voiceover is portrayed so well that you’ll find yourself desperate to meet the fictional A.J. Manglehorn and give him a hug. But outside of this phenomenal performance, there is nothing else going on. The supporting cast are average at best, with Holly Hunter and Chris Messina doing nothing overly memorable while Harmony Korine (director of Spring Breakers…yes…) feels completely out of place as a local pimp. 

Outside of the cast, the film is arguably well-directed as a character study by David Gordon Green, especially considering he’s the man behind Pineapple Express and Your Highness. But you almost feel like he wanted Manglehorn to be more than that. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Effectively, it is sad scene after sad scene as we watch the lonely Manglehorn feed his cat or read his mail or walk around in a state of loneliness, unable to talk to anyone. It’s hard enough to see it in real life when we encounter these lonely souls in the street, but to watch 2 hours of it is just depressing. I’m all for a character study when that is the intention of the film and it is done with power behind the camera as well as in front of it. But here, something doesn’t feel right. And the problem certainly doesn’t lie with Pacino.

So to conclude, what is Manglehorn? Hard to say. It’s a vehicle for Al Pacino to show us what he can do, it’s a reminder that lonely old people have stories that made them that way…it’s not much else. Al Pacino shines in the lead role and could pick up an award for his work here. But nobody else brings anywhere near enough to the table to match Pacino’s performance, making a film that is difficult to recommend for anyone other than Pacino fans.

Manglehorn is a tedious, empty film that is just about saved by a winning performance from Pacino. 2/5.


Sam Love

Manglehorn at CeX

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Friday 27 November 2015

Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water

It's nearly Christmas, and you know what that means; time for a horror game review! Specifically, Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water. It's a Wii U exclusive, which is unexpected and creepy in itself nowadays. Could this be the first game of the year which actually makes good use of the GamePad?

There's arguably only one game which makes good, consistent use of the Wii U's dual screen setup. That's another horror game – Zombi U – and, embarrassingly for Nintendo, it's a third party launch title (not to mention a launch title that's been recently ported to other formats). This is another third party title, one with prequels on Microsoft and Sony formats (pull your fingers out, Nintendo!). There are three characters to control over fourteen chapters, a prologue, and an 'interlude'. The story ties into gameplay quite nicely, thank you very much.

Something is afoot at Mount Hikami and the village immediately below it. Spooooky things. Previously a popular tourist area, the mountain is now a notorious suicide spot. The dead wander the area at night, and young women are drawn there never to be seen again. It's up to you to find out what the fuck's going on – and how it's connected to stories of shrines and something called the 'black water'. You'll meet plenty of ghosts along the way, and you defend yourself with a special camera known as the 'Camera Obscura'. The GamePad acts as the in-game camera in your hands.

Hold the GamePad in front of you and hit X, and the screen provides a camera's-eye view. You'll sometimes need to take photos to reveal hidden objects or provide clues, but it's mostly for combat. You can't get away with simply using the pad as a traditional controller and concentrating on the TV, either. In a neat twist, the ghosts are visible on the TV – but they're much clearer through the camera, which also provides a sort of health bar for them as well as visual cues for the best time to take a picture.

You can't simply keep hitting the photo button until the ghosts go away, you see. There are multiple types of film of varying strength, but only the crappiest one is available in an infinite amount. In addition, the film needs to load after each shot (which can vary by upgrades and type of film used). You'll want each picture to count, therefore. Catch a bunch of spectral objects in a single shot for maximum damage. If you're brave, take a picture at the last possible moment of  a ghost attack for a 'Fatal Frame' – a more powerful shot that also lets you take more pictures rapidly for a few seconds.
The ghosts themselves are, by and large, shit-inducing material. They look suitably disturbing with some great wibbly-wobbly effects, and sound even creepier than they look. They also have a tendency to teleport out of view, hide for a few moments, then reappear somewhere different (often rushing you). This can lead to some very tense parts where you accidentally take a shot that deals little to no damage, and nervously will the film to reload before one or more ghosts make a dive for you.

The story is pretty good, encouraging you to explore for collectables and seek out as many visions (had by interacting with defeated ghosts) as possible. Unfortunately, repetition of locations is the game's main problem, which saps most of the horror out of the experience before the end. The more familiar you are with something, the more comfortable you are with it.

By the time you reach the final chapter the scares are pretty much gone; ghost encounters are just fights, and the final boss fight is, well... just a boss fight. The strong story and multiple endings however will keep you going, and perhaps even encourage replays.

The dead come alive for 3/5.


Luke Kemp

Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water at CeX

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Thursday 26 November 2015

Halo 5: Guardians

After The Master Chief Collection (Let's not talk about that one), Halo 5: Guardians has a lot to prove, especially in the multiplayer space, and before going into that I can say that the multiplyer is really freaking, no wait -I'm gonna say it- f*cking good. However, despite the highs of the multiplayer, a mediocre campaign which sets up an exciting finale keeps the game from legendary status.

Developed by 343 Industries and out now for Xbox One, Halo 5: Guardians is a lot of things: Expansive, thrilling, aesthetically pleasing, and disingenuous. That last one catch your eye? Well let me explain something: The marketing material you've seen and got excited about in the run up to the game? It's all pretty much a pack of lies and if you were to walk through 343 Industries I can guarantee that smoke would be rising from under their desk as if some clothing had caught alight.

The campaign was boasted as being a massive showdown between Master Chief and Locke. That doesn't really happen unless you count a little thrown fists about a third of the way through. Having finished the campaign, I can see exactly why they decided to market the game in the way that they did but it was a bummer nevertheless.

The campaign itself is one of the more straightforward stories but also one of the least satisfying ones. The story very much feels like it's set in the middle of a trilogy but it features absolutely no closure meaning you've nothing to grasp at come credits. You're left with more questions, but a great sense of excitement for Halo 6, which isn't really something you want when you've just played a game. "Sure that was OK but I can't wait for three years from now to actually get told a great story!" Halo 2 online was love, Halo 2 online was life. It was every waking moment that wasn’t school growing up. Hell, I even stayed up all night playing Halo 2 online and suddenly got sick when 7 a.m. rolled around. I get those same “forget responsibilities” feelings when I play Halo 5: Guardians online. The multiplayer is actually broken down into two modes: Arena and Warzone.

Arena is what you would expect if you're a returning fan. The multiplayer is broken down into your standard multiplayer hopper with plenty of modes including the very-much-inspired-by-Counter-Strike Breakout mode. Two teams enter a small arena and have no shields and just a single life. A winner is declared when a team wins 5 rounds. It's intense, surprisingly so by even Halo standards. You coordinate, deploy tactics, and mix things up to be successful. 

The other mode, Warzone, is something entirely new to the series. Probably the scariest way to put it is that it's like Halo's take on an FPS MOBA *gasp*. The reality of it though is pretty neat. These matches take place on large battlefields and the aim  is to be the first team to reach 1000 points. How you do that is the interesting part. You gain a single point for taking out an enemy, you obtain points for holding any number of the three points on the map and then special rewards come from taking down boss A.I. that are insanely tough. The cruel thing to this boss part is that some of them are worth 150 points and it only goes to the team that inflict the killing blow. This can lead to wanting to walk out the nearest bay window.

The mode is deep and enjoyable. You can level up in each map and use requisition cards which can be bought in the store using in-game credits and real money if you are so inclined. It's more casual but shows off the Halo sandbox at its very best.

It's a game of two halves: One mediocre campaign that asks you to finish the fight in the next iteration again and one excellent multiplayer. 4/5.


Jason Redmond

Halo 5: Guardians at CeX

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Wednesday 25 November 2015

CeX opens 4th store in Mexico!

Aww yea mateys, today is a fantastico day. We've just opened our brand new CeX Plaza Central de Abasto, our 4th in Mexico. Bueno!

Find yourself down sunny Mexico way? Make sure you pop in and say "Hi!" at:

Río Churubusco No. 1635, Central de Abasto, Ciudad de Mexico, 09040

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Inside Out

Directed by Peter Doctor and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Inside Out, a bold and ambitious premise that, arguably, reaches further than any other movie under the Disney banner to date. The story concerns single child Riley (American of course) and, to a greater extent, the five anthropomorphised emotions at the controls in 'Headquarters' in her mind. Headquarters! Geddit?!? Don't worry, the jokes get a lot better than that.

It's subtly communicated, but the two main themes of the movie are growth and maturation. These themes start right at the beginning of the film, when we are briefly introduced to Riley as a newborn. Joy is born into existence, and Riley has her first smile; Sadness follows soon afterwards, and therefore so does Riley's first cry. The control panel in HQ consists of a single oversized button. Fast forward to Riley age eleven, and Joy and Sadness have been joined by three other emotions; Fear, Anger, and Disgust. Together, they use the control panel (now significantly more complex) to manage Riley's reactions to the world around her. 

The casting here is interesting, as the actors are generally speaking names with little to no experience of children's projects, and/or are far better known for work unsuitable for the little ones. Amy Poehler plays Joy and, while she has for example played Eleanor in two of the live-action Chipmunk films (unrecognisable through the voice manipulation, of course), she'll be better known to most for work such as Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation. Similarly, if you recognise names such as Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader or Richard Kind at all, it's unlikely to be for kids' projects. They all have strong backgrounds in comedy though, which has helped immensely. Inside Out is very funny when it wants to be.

Riley's family moves house (a popular allegory for growing up) almost as soon as the film has begun, which is what kicks off all the trouble. With Riley taken far away from her school, her friends, and all that is familiar to her, Joy does her best to spray a positive sheen over everything, and to manage absolutely everything in order to keep Riley happy – but this, you see, is the true source of the chain of disasters which follows. Joy works hard to suppress Sadness and keep her away from the controls and from stored memories at every opportunity. Although it's not immediately obvious, each instance of Joy's well-intended actions against Sadness have a negative effect on Riley.

The story is just as much about Joy growing up as it is about Riley doing the same. There's a powerful scene toward the end where Joy, irrepressibly positive and happy for the rest of the film, breaks down in tears. This is the point at which she finally matures, and realises that it is Sadness who must save the day. One of the take-home messages of the film is that it's okay – necessary, in fact – to be sad sometimes; a line that children and adults alike need to take to heart.

It seems almost unfair to say so, but the film would have been more interesting (and even funnier) if more time were spent in heads other than Riley's – as these moments are the source of some of the film's best jokes. That's a shame, but this is still a film that will make kids of all ages listen, laugh, and maybe – just maybe – have a healthy little cry, too.

The whole family will Riley like it. 4/5.


Luke Kemp

Inside Out at CeX

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Tuesday 24 November 2015

Huawei Honor 7

Huawei just gave birth to the budget cousin of the Mate S, the Honor 7. Is it any good? Read on to find out!



The Huawei Honor 7 measures 143.2 x 71.9 x 8.5mm and weighs in at 157g. This is just 2mm thicker than the recently released P8 and 13g heavier. It's got  a metal alloy unibody design with some plastic at the top and bottom. The 20MP rear camera is placed just above the fingerprint sensor and has a slight bulge .There's also a dual-LED dual-tone flash.  The build quality feels very premium and although a bit heavy and thicker than the Mate S, it's still a great device in your hand.

On the top edge sits the 3.5mm jack , IR blaster and noise cancelling mic. The loudspeaker grill is at the bottom edge on the left, while a micro USB port at the centre. The right side has an identical grill which is just for symmetry and not a speaker.  Left edge hosts the cool Smart key button that can be used to launch apps and settings, while above it is the ejectable tray for the SIM / SD card.

Display & Hardware:

The 5.2" screen takes up the most space on the front 7" of the Honor 7. It's a IPS LCD with 1080x1920 display @424ppi. It' decent in bright sunlight but you'll need 100% brightness to be able to see the full screen. In terms of Hardware, it's got Huawei's own HiSilicon Kirin 935 chipset - quad-core 2.2GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A53 with the not so great Mali-T628 MP4 GPU & 3GB of RAM. Available in both 16 GB or 64GB ROM and a micro SD slot which doubles as secondary SIM slot in case you have the Dual SIM variant of this phone. The one I'm testing is the 16GB (9GB usable) has the same slot but you can't use it for the SIM , only accept the SD card. It supports LTE & Bluetooth v4.0 with GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS & NFC. The IR blaster doesn't have any app linked in the phone so you will have to download one from the Play store.


It runs on Android 5.0 out of the box underlying the EMUI 3.1, which is definitely not one of the most liked UIs on an Android phone.  The lock screen has options of "covers" or images which can change automatically everyday or you can chose the ones you want from your gallery. Then you can have up to 9 home screens that support widgets but there's no app drawer which I don't prefer personally and am using the Google Now launcher.

The UI also has one hand operation mode and a simple Windows tile style home screen. Motion gesture styled functionalities to mute or answer calls are also available. The fingerprint sensor also has a lot of options like answering calls by touch & hold , stopping alarms, taking photo / videos & notification panel expansion. 

The Smart key (which a lot of manufacturers have taken inspiration for from the iPhones) has 3 options of single press, double press and long press that can be assigned different functionalities. I use them for Wi-Fi , Location / GPS  & Screenshot respectively. Although you can double tap with your knuckles to take a screenshot as well .


The 20MP rear camera is a Sony IMX230 sensor and f/2.0 aperture with Sapphire glass protection along with dual tone LED flash.  The front camera is 8MP with f/2.4 aperture and wide angle lens with a single LED flash .While the camera is active you can swipe and switch between modes which is pretty cool. 

The rear camera has a variety of modes and filters of which the light painting mode is my favourite that lets you capture car taillight trails , light graffiti etc  that  are added after the photo is captured. The photos are sharp in daylight and better than average at night. Selfies come out great thanks to the front flash that has a variety of beauty options and owner recognition effects for a groupie ;)
Video recording is a disappointment since 60fps & 4K recording are missing but the 30fps 1080 videos do a decent job.

Gaming & Multimedia:

Asphalt 8, FIFA 2015, Modern Combat all played smoothly without any noticeable lag but even phones with 2GB RAM and a better GPU can play games flawlessly . For multimedia, it's got Huawei's custom music player app with the standard album art, lyrics etc. but missing the most important Equaliser! The speaker volume is not very high and games / music would best be enjoyed with earphones . In terms of Benchmark scores, AnTuTu was at 42689 which is lower than the P8 , Meizu Mx5 which are similar devices.


A great looking phone with all features you'd get in a flagship for almost half the price is a steal! If you can live without the  4k recording / 60fps mode and non-removable battery with no wireless charging, this is one of the best phones to buy right now .

Huawei Honor 7 gets a 4/5.


Pritesh Khilnani

Huawei Honor 7 at CeX

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Monday 23 November 2015


The World Rally Championship games have always been a compromise of budget and ambition. The previous developers Milestone have always had their heart in the right place but their hands used for execution were just not steady enough. Under a new team WRC 5 brings the series back in a really positive way, even if there are a few crests along the way. 

Developed by Kylotonn and out now Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, WRC 5 brings the fun back into rally. If you’ve been paying attention to the other huge rally game series, Dirt Rally, you’ll know that it’s been focusing much more on the pure stage to stage rally driving with an emphasis on simulation. WRC 5 is much more of the fun, arcade side of things but stays through to the licence. 

The game includes all 13 locations with all stages. This means you get a full range of the difference surfaces. From the snow of Sweden to the tarmac and gravel of other locations, the game does a great job of making each surface feel different. This creates an excellent new challenge at each new location besides the new twists and turns. Each new location is a new test that you must wrap your head around as the different surfaces require different manoeuvres from your rally car.

The career mode in WRC 5 surprisingly focuses on keeping you in your rally car. The start sees you go through two short years before finally taking on the full career. The management is kept to a minimum with the only real menus you need to manage and navigate within is between stages as you choose which parts to fix up at the service station. 

The driving in WRC 5 is forgiving. Don’t expect the requirement for perfect braking times, turning and proper acceleration coming out of a turn. This is more about enjoy the feel of the ride. That’s one thing it does so well: Everything feels like an accomplishment. That’s not because the game is so punishingly tough but rather that the game makes you feel like you’re pulling off incredible runs, and you can do so with relative ease, but the forgiving braking and turning makes it all look and feel that little bit more spectacular.

There are a number of flaws though. The first one is with the A.I. driver who will interrupt himself and keep commenting when you take even the tiniest knock. It can delay the instructions meaning if you’re focusing on what your co-driver is saying it can become useless and that is certainly frustrating. The game also has some performance issues on consoles. There are frame rate issues as well as a couple of times when the game simply crashed. They’re problems that can be ironed out but as of right now, they are still present.

If you love the thrill of rally driving without the fear of losing over a single bad turn or one small crash, then WRC 5 may be a perfect fit. There is a better rally driving game available right now in the form of Dirt Rally but WRC 5 is a massive improvement on its predecessors and the future of the series is finally looking look.

WRC 5: FIA World Rally Championship is a medium right turn with 3/5.


Jason Redmond

WRC 5: FIA World Rally Championship at CeX

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Sunday 22 November 2015

Now That’s What I call Sing

Everybody loves to sing right? Do you know what everybody loves more? Being judged for singing by peers and even a computer. If you like being judged for your falsettos and vocal crescendos, Now That’s What I call Sing is perfect for you. If you actually just want a game that you can easily set up and have fun with friends with, this games works OK like that too. 

Developed by Ravenscourt and out now for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is NOW That’s What I Call Sing which is another karaoke game that features a set-list much more modern than its contemporaries. Rather than trying to cater to audiences of a few generations going through the decades, almost all of the songs featured are from just the last couple of years. If you love your pop music then NOW That’s What I Call Sing caters to all the different styles of pop. From the high-beat dance of Avicii to the ballads of John Legend, it’s a surprisingly impressive set-list of big, recent songs. 

Singing on this game is used with any USB microphone meaning you don’t need to shell out more money for packed-in microphones if you have any lying around. This makes things easier if you want to have four people playing together and just plug in and play, simple and easy. At least, that’s what is supposed to happen. I had some problems connecting my Blue Yeti to it. No matter how many times I plugged it in it just would never recognise it. Other USB mics seemed to work but surprisingly, plugging a headset into your controller worked flawlessly every time.

The game is all about just jumping straight in and singing. There is no progression or career meaning this is just the thing to pull out at a party and have different people simply take turns as after each song, it brings you back to the song list to pick the next one. It makes it easier but there are no incentives to keep playing other than singing another song.

There are a decent number of modes that change the songs up a bit. At first, you only have classic and duet mode but as you complete it and do better you unlock other modes for each song only. This is rather frustrating as you have to sing the same song a couple of times just to unlock all the modes to then play on the same song again.

It’s a standard karaoke game with a great set-list that caters to every fan of pop from recent years. Despite all of that, there is probably one thing that make it all worth it for you but with a catch: The game features Let It Go because of course it features Let It Go. The catch? It’s the Demi Lovato. version. Can’t win them all!.

NOW That’s What I Call Sing hits a good note. 3/5.


Jason Redmond

Now That’s What I call Sing at CeX

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Saturday 21 November 2015

Pay the Ghost

Out now on DVD and Blu-ray is Nicolas Cage’s latest work of art, Pay the Ghost. A supernatural horror in which Cage’s son is taken on Halloween. The question is which type of Cage film it is. One of the good ones, or one of the weaker ones of recent years? (*cough* Left Behind *cough*) Read on to find out if this horror film is scary or just scarily bad.

The plot is simple. Nicolas Cage plays Mike Lawford, a father who doesn’t spend enough time with his son and wife. He’s married to his job! Not a super original set up. But Cage puts his back into it, it never feels like he’s coasting his way through this one like he’s been known to do recently. It makes all the difference in the world to see the main actor actually trying to put in a decent performance. There’s plenty of his trademark shouting in Pay the Ghost too. For the majority of the film it really feels like he’s back to his old, crazy self. It very nearly washes the taste of Trespass and Left Behind away. Nearly.

The other actors do a decent job. Mike’s wife is played by Sarah Wayne Callies of The Walking Dead fame. She’s fine, nothing too bad. She plays the typical hysterical mother and it’s a real shame to see her absent from the climax of the movie. Up until that point the movie was doing a good job of making it about a mother and father’s hunt for their son, but the end is all about Cage. I guess in a film starring Nicolas Cage however, all other actors are part of the scenery.

The movie really gets going once Cage’s son is taken. He begins to hear things and finds clues that lead him on a hunt for his son. It is pretty interesting, you don’t know who or what has taken his son and you want to find out. But under any scrutiny it doesn’t really make any sense, and they reveal the monster too much, taking away a lot of the effective scares it could have had.

Speaking of the scares, how good are they? It is supposed to be a horror film after all so you’d expect to be suitably spooked right? Well I can safely say you will jump, probably a few times. But you can’t help but feel that it’s not enough. The majority of the scares involve one character looking at something and having a scary CGI face pop up. It’s like a 95 minute version of that scary maze game people used to trick their friends with. Sure it’ll scare you but it’s very lazy. One scene see’s the filmmakers trying to scare us with a scooter, which is as silly as it sounds. Another ‘scare’ sees them copying the famous scene from Insidious where the monster appears briefly behind a character. But here it’s crappy and CGI. And with Nicolas Cage instead of Patrick Wilson.

This film feels like a rubbish Insidious in a few ways. The ending see’s Cage going into a scary supernatural world to save his son, only to be chased by the world’s monster. Very reminiscent of Insidious, only lacking any kind of tension. Recently there have been so many great horror movies, Sinister and The Conjuring, or The Babadook and It Follows. It feels like we’re entering a new age of really awesome horror movies, sadly Pay the Ghost is not one of them.

The people behind the film were trying, or at least it seems like they were. It’s not directed badly and it doesn’t look as cheap as Nic Cage’s recent work. The CGI is alright and at only an hour and a half long it doesn’t get chance to be boring. The idea of Nicolas Cage in a proper scary horror movie was intriguing and he is by far the best thing in this film. It’s just a bit drab, and doesn’t offer anything new, especially for fans of horror.

If you want a supernatural film starring Nicolas Cage, you’d be better off with Drive Angry or even Season of the Witch, at least that one has Ron Pearlman. Skip Pay The Ghost, for die-hard Cage-aholics only.

Pay the Ghost gets mediocre 2/5.


Jack Bumby

Pay the Ghost at CeX

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Friday 20 November 2015


"To scandalize is a right, to be scandalized is a pleasure" - Pier Paolo Pasolini

In 1975, the highly controversial Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom was released. Due to its depiction of intensely graphic violence, sadism and sexual abuse being inflicted upon youths, it remains banned in several countries to this day – it was only granted an uncut release here in the UK in the year 2000. The director of Salò, Pier Paolo Pasolini, didn’t live to see all of this controversy – although he had his fair share when he was alive – because he was brutally murdered weeks before the film’s release. Who was he? Was he the sick, depraved man the media labelled him, or an artistic genius ahead of his time?

Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini, out now on DVD & Blu-Ray, attempts to show us. Willem Dafoe plays the eponymous director, increasingly opposed by the public for both his homosexuality and his scandalous, indecent films. But Pasolini isn’t necessarily a biopic, as such. Like Dylan Thomas film Set Fire To The Stars or the epic Lincoln, Pasolini chooses to focus on a small part of the subject’s life – in this case, his final day, delivering a wildly kaleidoscopic patchwork narrative structure. We watch as he meets with friends, collaborators and his mother (played by Adriana Asti, who starred in Pasolini’s Accattone in 1961) before meeting a young man whom he takes for dinner and a fateful trip to the beach which proved to be the end of the iconic director’s life. 

When Pasolini is delivered a straight biopic of the man, it’s an interesting watch. Pier Paolo Pasolini isn’t a director I’ve ever explored too deeply, but being a film enthusiast am always keen to learn about this sort of figure. Watching as he edits Salò or discusses the next film he planned to make, Porno-Teo-Kolossal, is interesting to see. But unfortunately, Abel Ferrara gets arguably a little self-indulgent here. With fantasy sequences aplenty and scenes of an imagined Porno-Teo-Kolossal, I was left wanting a more straight-forward biopic. Even in the short length of 80 minutes, Pasolini felt largely unfocused and aimless – especially when Willem Dafoe isn’t on screen, which was peculiarly quite a lot despite being the title ‘character’. Dafoe doesn’t do anything remarkable here but delivers a believable performance and, if nothing else, bears an uncanny resemblance to Pier Paolo Pasolini in his final years. But regardless of whether or not his performance is as memorable as it could be, the energy of the film drops considerably whenever he’s off screen. At the end of the day, the film is called Pasolini, we’re here to see him. When he wasn’t around, I found myself twiddling my thumbs and checking my watch until he came back.

This was clearly a passion project for the not-quite-equally controversial director Abel Ferrarra, but it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. The unfocused narrative and overly artistic fantasy malarkey just took me out of the film too much. I’m not saying it’s a bad film – from what I’ve read, critical and audience reception seems pretty mixed. Some share my view, some feel it’s one of the finest ‘biopics’ of recent years. I suppose that’s the whole point of cinema, and the critical divide is something Pasolini himself would be chuffed with.

But in conclusion, Pasolini was just an uncomfortable viewing experience – and not the Pasolini kind of uncomfortable, just the mediocre filmmaking kind of uncomfortable. Perhaps it would’ve been wiser to make a film based around the making of Salò – like Hitchcock, which is based around the making of Psycho – than this slightly wacky final days kind of film. Who knows…

Pasolini is an unusual take on an unusual story, but leaves a lot to be desired. 3/5.


Sam Love

Pasolini at CeX

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Thursday 19 November 2015

CeX @ MCM Birmingham Comic Con

Come see us at this weekend's November MCM Birmingham Comic Con 2015 and check out our awesome pop-up store!

You can drop by to say “Hi!”, check out our treasure trove of goodies, and of course buy, sell & exchange to your heart's content. Watch our live video stream below or check out our photo feed of fans and cosplay aficionados who've visited our store, vote for your favourites on the CeX Facebook page by liking and the top 3 will win a £250, £150 or £50 voucher (voting ends 30th November)! You can also see what's happening via our Instagram feed and Twitter.

Post by CeX.

Held at The NEC (National Exhibition Centre), MCM Birmingham Comic Con is a festival of popular culture and all things delightfully nerdy. It's the perfect place to indulge your inner geek!

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Tales of Zestiria

It's a series that has had an incredible history and although it hasn't changed massively over the years, there's a certain magic to the Tales of games. With its newest iteration, some things have changed, some things have improved but one thing is certain: It's so good to have a new Tales of game on this generation of consoles. 

Developed by Namco Bandai Studios and Tri-Crescendo and out now on PlayStation 4, Tales of Zestiria is an expected title in the series that only changes things slightly. This isn’t a bad thing however as the foundation the series is built on is still really strong. The game sees a Shepard named Sorey embark on an epic quest ,but is met with many obstacles including warring nations, monsters made out of pure evil and then the main antagonist himself: Heldaf. The narrative is fairly standard and it doesn't stray too far from the fantasy setup, but it also doesn't bore or disappoint. It's exactly what you want from a game like this.

I have to get this out of the way now: Tales of Zestiria is bloody gorgeous. Every screen-shot, every trailer, everything with its name attached is the reason why this game series is still so loved and so popular in Japan. It's colourful with incredibly art style and just walking around in the stunning environments was an absolute treat. I could watch someone play the game and just enjoy the visual treat that’s on display. 

The game is the first in the series to have an open world which leads to multiple multi-tiered linear dungeons. There aren’t too many linear dungeons to feel monotonous and a trudge to get through. It is a drastic change of pace to the great open world gameplay, but there is a fine balance between freedom and consistently pushing you one with varied and enjoyable environments. Even in the open world, there are plenty of off the beaten paths to take with plenty of chests with items and collectables to find.

One of the best things about any great JRPG game is the customisation. You can swap equipment and weapons as well as insert them with special slots that change the stats of the equipment. It’s deep without feeling distracting to the main game.

The combat though is possibly the most enjoyable part for any Tales of game. Each encounter brings you to a combat arena, and it gives you free run to move around, get the better position to take on enemies and give yourself the best chance to be successful. This still exists in Zestiria. There is also a more strategic element to Tales of Zestiria with its rock, paper, scissors, aspect to its magic known as Artes. You can also unleash a massive attack called Fuse which brings a huge attack filled with flair and damage.

Tales of Zestiria follows the series structure without changing too much. It’s visually stunning an even though the 40 hour campaign doesn’t feature the best story, it’s enough to see it through to its conclusion. The gameplay never gets dulls and always feels excellent. The music is so good that you will easily want you to just stand around, take in the scenery and just enjoy it all. It’s great to have excellent Japanese Role Playing Games on PlayStation 4 and Tales of Zestiria is pretty damn great!

Tales of Zestiria is a visual stunner with 4/5.


Jason Redmond

Tales of Zestiria at CeX

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Wednesday 18 November 2015

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Since the death of Apple’s Steve Jobs in 2011, we’ve had two biopic films about the man. Firstly, we had Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher which, from what I’ve been told, was utter wank. I didn’t go anywhere near it. Secondly and more recently, we’ve had Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender. Critical reception of the latter has been a lot warmer with awards hype building for next year’s Oscars – despite a disappointing box office reception, at least in the US. But there’s only so much a biopic can show or tell you about someone with a life as vast and interesting as Jobs. Thank goodness for Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine then, a highly informative and engrossing documentary which tells us more than any biopic could. Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray, is it worth a look?

The Man in the Machine starts with some tear-filled self-shot videos of Steve’s devout fans saying how much his death has affected them and how, despite never meeting him, he is their hero. If you think that’s strange, this is followed by ‘the whole planet feeling a loss’ as we see footage of streets filled with mourners, flower memorials and all sorts of emotional breakdown around the death of this man. It’s described by a newsreader as a ‘global wake’. And that’s exactly what it was. I’m sure you remember it – hell, maybe you were even part of it. But this mystified Alex Gibney, who sets out to find ‘what accounted for the grief from millions of people that didn’t know him’, especially considering Steve Jobs wasn’t a singer, civil rights leader or anyone who would ordinarily evoke love, inspiration and joy out of people. He was just a tech developer. And as Gibney states in his narration, ‘behind the scenes Jobs could be ruthless, deceitful and cruel’, something many didn’t know when Jobs passed. This film explores this in depth.

Due to this exploration, many of Steve’s fans have accused Gibney of being mean-spirited and biased (something he’s been accused of before) in his delivery of the story. Some are completely blindly loyal to Jobs and, to this day, refuse to accept he was ever brutal with anyone. But this accusation of being biased and mean-spirited in regards to Steve Jobs is bollocks, because he was often brutal. The stories we hear come from interviews with Jobs’ colleagues, friends and family – and we see an awful lot of Jobs himself in archive footage that doesn’t exactly paint the prettiest picture. As such, Gibney is not being mean-spirited. These are just the facts being delivered. But with the numerous biopics and books since Jobs’ death, this revelation is beginning to lose its impact. When people first started hearing how much of a shit Jobs could be, they were shocked. But now, we shrug and say “that’s Steve Jobs for you!”. It’s no longer a shock.

In any case, The Man in the Machine is an extremely well-made documentary – as we’ve come to expect from Gibney, after his Oscar-winning Taxi to the Dark Side and Emmy-winning Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. Clocking in at just over 2 hours, The Man in the Machine is very well paced and covers a huge amount of history from a variety of sources with some cracking archive footage throughout. Gibney continues to prove himself as one of the finest documentary filmmakers working today with this brilliantly constructed piece. Also, listen out for some great tunes on the soundtrack including the live version of One More Cup of Coffee from Bob Dylan’s criminally underrated At Budokan album. Sorry Bob Dylan fans, I like it!

So in conclusion, The Man in the Machine doesn’t really bring anything new to the Jobs table. Especially if you’ve seen either of the films or read the books. Yes, Jobs could be a shit. But this film tells us why and how with more depth than the biopics could. If you want the full story, read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. If you just want a tiny bit of the story, watch one of the biopics. If you want something down the middle, watch The Man in the Machine. The only problem with it? It doesn’t explain why Jobs made the iPhone battery so shit. I’M ONLY RUNNING ONE APP, WHY IS IT ALREADY ON 20%?!

Engrossing and informative, The Man in the Machine earns a solid 4/5.

Sam Love

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine at CeX

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Tuesday 17 November 2015

Wasteland 2: Director's Cut

It may seem weird to see a 2 at the end of it but for those that may not know, Wasteland 2 is the sequel to a 1988 game that was essentially the game that is responsible for the Fallout series. So given that information you can probably assume that the game is set in a post-nuclear wasteland and you're trying to carry out tasks in an unwelcoming environment.

Developed by InXile and out now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Wasteland 2: Director's Cut is a Kickstarted game made specifically for the PC. A year after it released though and here we have it on consoles. So obviously, because everything was developed with PC only in mind that Wasteland 2: Director's Cut feels terrible on a controller right? Nope.

Weirdly enough, the turn-based Role Playing Game feels quite natural on consoles. The Director's Cut also sees a number of enhancements from the original release which includes it being visually more impressive thanks to its jump to the Unity 5 Engine. However, despite that, the game isn't really that pleasant to look at. It's muddy, and textures are not that good. Weirdly enough, the worst aspect though is probably just how bad your team of characters look.

One of the best things though is just how much depth you have to your characters. Everything from their class, stats and perks can be chosen and this means that you can have a vastly different team but one that can possibly cover you for all situations.

Combat takes a turn-based system, one that you'd be familiar with if you played the most recent Xcom game. This is slow and methodical and one for those of you that love numbers and statistics. I may have mentioned the series coming from it, but Wasteland 2's combat is for the most part nothing like that of  Fallout apart form one thing: The V.A.T.S. system. Everything has a percentage chance and numbers is a big part of it. It can trudge and become monotonous but the complexity will keep you invested as the game rolls on.

Wasteland 2: Director's Cut is a long game too, promising up to 100 hours of gameplay. While visually, it isn't much to write home about, there is just so much character to the world that makes it hard to not keep going. Combat is deep and rewarding and while some encounters drag on, you always feel accomplished at the end of it.

The best thing though is the story writing which is just written incredibly well. If the combat doesn't do it for you but you're a sucker for story, this is just one of the best stories you'll experience all year. It includes a fair bit of chatter and reading but for those of you that are looking for it, there's not much better than what can be found here. A game that shouldn't even work on consoles is one of the best RPGs to come out this generation.

Wasteland 2: Director's Cut is far from uninhabitable. 4/5.


Jason Redmond

Wasteland 2: Director's Cut at CeX

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Monday 16 November 2015

Hannibal - Season 3

Out now on Blu ray and DVD comes the latest season of the underrated and under-watched Hannibal. I guess I may as well call this review ‘Hannibal: The Final Season’ because it no longer looks as if some mystery channel are going to swoop in and save one of the best shows of recent memory. Not many shows have to exist within the shadow of an incomparable film classic, and when they do the TV shows almost never compare. But Hannibal not only manages to get out of the shadow of Silence of the Lambs; in season 3 it manages to surpass it.

The series starts out not long after last one finished but quite a few things have changed for the charming cannibal. After the massacre at the end of season 2 Hannibal has relocated to Florence, Italy with Gillian Anderson’s Bedelia, who is partly his prisoner and partly there for her own reasons. Meanwhile, Will is recovering in hospital after being almost disembowelled by Hannibal last season and is now seeing ghostly apparitions to boot. Far from being the only one feeling the reparations of Hannibal Lecter's wrath, it seems everyone has been hurt by Hannibal in one way or another. The first half of the season deals with this, and sends Will off to Lithuania and then Italy on the trail of Hannibal who has set up a nice cosy life for himself. This part of season 3 feels vastly different to what came before. Gone are the procedural and villain-of-the-week aspects that were present in the first two seasons, with the first part of season 3 instead feeling like a 6-7 hour long film. That's not a criticism mind; it's refreshing to have something different, and the change in format matches the massive change the characters have undergone since the last season.

Not much more can be said of the plot without giving away big spoilers but it's common knowledge that, for one reason or another, the focus in part 2 of season 3 is not on Hannibal but rather an equally frightening newcomer; The Red Dragon. The last thing Hannibal needs is a new villain but portrayed by the fantastic Richard Armitage, the Red Dragon (real name Francis Dolarhyde) is outstanding. He is legitimately terrifying and an equal parts villain to the great Hannibal Lecter, and is equally damaging to Will Graham, who has been tasked with taking him down. Hugh Dancy is brilliant again as the incredibly damaged Will, acting as a pawn for everyone's games. Laurence Fishburne is also great, as always, and is involved in one of the most fun and interesting fights of the series when he comes up against Hannibal again. Of course, as it has always been, the real draw of the show is Mads Mikkelson as the title character. Perfectly cast as the sinister manipulative cannibal it's a testament to his performance that he manages to over shadow the brilliant Anthony Hopkins in the role.

Something else that sets Hannibal apart from the rest of the TV landscape is the direction of the show. Being probably the most disgusting show on television you wouldn't think it could also be the most beautiful. The composition of each shot is amazing, and so deliberate, that you could pause it at any moment and have a stunning image. Often gruesome, and always pretentious, the look of the show is something that hasn't yet been replicated or beaten by anything else on TV, and is one of the reasons the show is so unique.

After the brilliant, but perhaps similar, first two seasons of the show, Hannibal reinvents itself completely with the arrival of season 3. The show is as wonderfully pretentious as ever, with more of the great performances and obtuse dialogue that we've all come to adore. Which makes it even sadder that this is probably the last we'll see of this iteration of Hannibal, and we'll almost certainly never see one as good as this again. 

Hannibal gets a tasty 5/5.


Tom Bumby

Hannibal - Season 3 at CeX

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