Sunday, 21 April 2019

March TV / Movie Video Round UP

Have you watched our February  TV / Movie review yet?

Let's not forget about the silver screen productions for March. Sam is with us again with some great recommendations worth spending an evening on, and one darn right terrible entry, which will be named & shamed....spoiler its Robin Hood! This month, we also have:

Widows / Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald / Free Solo

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Saturday, 20 April 2019

March Nintendo Switch Video Round UP

Have you watched our March Switch review yet?

Our marvellous March roundups continue with a list of the amazing games Nintendo had to offer this month! Tom will be looking at:

Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon / Lego Movie 2 Game / Yoshi's Crafted World  / Unravel Two

Which was your favourite game this March?

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Friday, 19 April 2019

March Xbox Video Round UP

Have you watched our March Xbox review yet?

Time for the 3rd instalment and our list of the amazing games Xbox had to offer in February! This month, Lewis will be looking at:

The Division 2 /  The Sinking City / Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Which was your favourite game this month?

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Friday, 12 April 2019

WIN a Switch + 2 Games This Easter!

Yes, you read right!

Want to win a Nintendo Switch with Yoshi's Crafted World & The Lego Movie 2 Game?

To celebrate Easter we are giving you a chance to win an amazing prize! Just leave a product review of anything on webuy.com between Saturday the 13th & Monday the 22nd of April. The winner will be picked at random from all published reviews and contacted to receive their prize within 28 days of the closing date. 



To leave a review, head to webuy.com and search for the product you want to review. You can leave your review by clicking the “write review” button which is either found just below the product title (if it has been reviewed by others) or at the bottom of the page (if you’ve been lucky enough to get there first!).


TERMS
Your review must be approved by the BazaarVoice* moderation team. Product reviews will not be approved if:
  • There is no review of the product itself
  • Contains links to other sites
  • Contains foul language, threats of violence or illegality

It is important that your review is about the product in question, not about the service or the status of the product (for that there are other channels). If, for example, you want to review a movie, say "American History X", you should discuss the film in question (eg "the movie is too slow", "the movie is too violent", "the movie has a great script, accompanied by a great direction and an excellent performance by Edward Norton, highly recommended ", etc.). If in the review you do not refer to the product in question but to the state in which it has arrived or the time it has taken to arrive, then that review will not be included for the draw.

Please note that all prizes will be issued as a CeX voucher in the currency of the domain the winning review was left in. And as always CeX's decision is final on all competition matters and whether a review is published. Good Luck!


* BazaarVoice are an online review company.



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Friday, 5 April 2019

Captain Marvel ★★★★☆


The latest Marvel superhero to get the silver screen treatment is the Captain (Brie Larson*) herself. She lands in 1995 with her memories in disarray, looking for answers to multiple questions while fighting an intergalactic terrorist threat on behalf of the Kree Starforce.

*Larson courted controversy in the build up to the release of Captain Marvel, calling for more diversity from film critics. It’s a fair cause, somewhat ruined by the phrase; “I don’t want to hear what a white man has to say..” It got people in their feelings and led to numerous 0-star reviews online before the movie came out.


As a white guy, her quote puts me in a somewhat awkward position. I enjoyed the film, ( I expect most others will too) and I don’t see any problem with her agenda. On the other hand, if I did think the film was a steaming turd, her provocative statement is a great defence against any criticism I could muster.

Samuel L Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury, and it’s set so long ago that he still has hair, doesn’t know about the existence of aliens, and moves surprisingly well for a man who is going to be 71 in December. Fury provides support throughout, while Jude Law heads up the supporting cast as the Captain’s mentor Yon-Rogg. Annette Bening plays Kree leader Supreme Intelligence, taking the form of the person admired the most by the viewer. 

The majority of the film takes place on Earth, although lower stakes don’t necessarily make for a boring movie. As you might expect, the titular character takes up the majority of the focus, as she slowly begins to remember that she’s Carol Danvers, a former crack pilot in the Air Force. Amnesia isn’t the freshest narrative device and it leads down a familiar path. We know what Carol is capable of, so she’s the one playing catch up while fighting average mooks that even the weakest Avenger would handle easily. Shapeshifting enemies are another device we’ve all seen before, but it works well enough as the main character gets up to speed with her ridiculous power levels. It doesn’t help when you’re a god in comparison to everyone around you, but she has to be to have a chance against in the upcoming war with Thanos.

Aside from a few cringe moments, there’s enough Marvel magic to keep the average viewer interested throughout the latest origin story, and it’s always going to succeed because it’s a bridge between the two Infinity War films. Captain Marvel is vaguely reminiscent of the original Thor, with an OP hero struggling to understand her powers on an Alien world. Unlike Thor, she doesn’t bother with romance, which is actually pretty refreshing. The lack of a love interest means there are fewer filler scenes and more time for cracking jokes and moving the story along. Carol begins to remember her past life on Earth, and she realises her true potential by the time the film builds to a satisfying climax.


CGI continues to improve with each film, and the reported $150m budget was well spent recreating 1995 faithfully. From Blockbuster Video to outdated tech, it’s full of nostalgic hits for anyone old enough to remember the turn of the millennium. It might only be a stopgap before she goes on to meet Thanos with the rest of the surviving Avengers, but Captain Marvel’s origin story is worth watching.


★★★★☆
James Millin-Ashmore



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Thursday, 4 April 2019

March PlayStation Video Round UP


Have you watched our March PlayStation review yet?


March sure was a great month for gaming! Join Jake, as he takes a look at the latest and greatest last month had to offer for the PlayStation! In this month's video, we have:

Dead Or Alive 6 / Devil May Cry 5 / Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice / Assassin's Creed 3 Remastered / The Division 2

Which was your favourite game this March?

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The Walking Dead: The Final Season ★★★★☆


People need closure. I need closure. When Telltale announced they were shutting up shop, it didn’t look good for The Walking Dead: The Final Season. The plodding nature of their releases should have been an indicator of their precarious position, and it meant there was a chance that the last two chapters would never see the light of day. Despite maintaining radio silence for a while, it was picked up by series creator Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment. It’s a welcome relief to know that we’ll get a conclusion to a story that began back in 2012, especially one that eclipses a show that can be hit-and-miss at the best of times.


Players are placed back in the shoes of Clementine, who continues to protect AJ years after we last saw her in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier. Her problems manifest when she meets up with former students from the Ericson Academy for Troubled Youth, who she decides to stick with for the time being. If you’ve been here since season 1, you’ll have the chance to reminisce about Lee, Kenny, and everyone else, while old enemies and previous experiences should be helpful as you have to decide who to trust when the going gets tough. 

“Broken Toys” is the third chapter which has just been released, with a fourth slated to be ready in time for March 2019. It continues to offer the typical batch of life-or-death choices, with consequences that do leave you attempting to read the future. If you do X, what happens to X? Everyone remembers everything, and it’s a familiar gameplay loop, but it’s still satisfying to get to know the characters, with the understanding that their safety generally depends on the choices you make. 

Despite growing up to be a 16-year-old single (adopted) mother in a wasteland full of crazy killers, Clementine is still sane, if a little hardened due to her past losses. She’s a great main character, and the focus on her relationship with AJ makes the story even more compelling.  You’ll spend a significant amount of time teaching AJ the ropes, shaping his personality as well as your own. It’s a nice touch, and you’ll always have to weigh the responsibilities of being a parent against the good of the group as a whole. He’s a brave little dude, but he’s only 5. Do you really want to give him a weapon?


I’m a bit tired of the format, but it shouldn’t be missed if the news of Telltale’s demise got you worried in the slightest. The core gameplay is pretty much the same, while graphically it’s a polished version of New Frontier. The story is always the selling point in the TWD game series, and it’s still as strong as the first season. For a time it felt like there might not be an ending, and it’s always a danger when a game is served up in a piecemeal fashion. Thankfully, we get an end to Clementine and AJ’s story, even if it’s in a slightly roundabout way. 

★★★★☆
James Millin-Ashmore

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Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Doctor Who: S11 ★★☆☆☆


A foray into uncharted territories, the eleventh season of Doctor Who is the first with a woman in the hot seat. Jodie Whittaker's energetic display is the epitome of a marmite performance, as she bounds along with endless enthusiasm, clearly embracing the zanier side of the Doctor in a similar style to Matt Smith.


As the first (and last) of her kind, Whittaker is being judged not just in her capacity to entertain as the Time Lord, but also whether her gender is actually suitable for playing a regenerating benevolent alien with two hearts who happens to love England while carrying a screwdriver around for protection. Online critics are quick to mention ‘SJW’ complaints about the direction of the show, but it doesn’t really make a difference if the Doctor is female in the grand scheme of things. 

Changes are also afoot when it comes to the companions. The Doctor is joined by a trio for the first time since the reboot, with Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, and Mandip Gill playing Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair, and Yasmin Khan. Much like the reinvention of Top Gear, responsibilities have been split as each takes up some of the slack, but there’s a feeling that the whole never makes up more than the sum of its parts. Yaz is the Doctor’s new best friend who works for the police, Ryan suffers from dyspraxia, and Graham is married to Ryan’s nan. Each are fine in their role, but it doesn’t help when the dialogue is often stilted. 

The show has received a lot of hate from a vocal section of the audience, due to the perceived ‘woke’ nature of companion selection and the choice of settings for a couple of episodes. There’s a fine balance between representation and tokenism, and while it may be educational for a younger audience, it’s also boring and vaguely preachy at times. On the other hand, it makes sense to teach children about racism and other problems, especially in a social climate that has seen a resurgence in backward thinking recently.


Other online complaints derive from the writing, and it’s true that poor storytelling leaves Whittaker little chance to truly make the role her own. While the latest regeneration is clearly a stark contrast to Peter Capaldi’s incarnation, a heavy drawl (Tim Shaw?) and a habit of pulling faces that telegraph her thoughts at every turn define her character. There isn’t really an overarching theme for the series as a whole, and while self-contained episodes include a sole Dalek, there’s isn’t a single Cyberman or any of the traditional enemies that you’d expect to see in Doctor Who. 

It’s not bad, but it’s different, and far from the teatime staple it used to be back in the heyday of David Tennant and Billie Piper. With that being said, there’s still hope for the latest Doctor, and tighter writing for next season will help to highlight good performances from the ensemble cast. 

★★☆☆☆
James Millin-Ashmore



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Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Crackdown 3 ★★☆☆☆


If repetition is the mother of learning, Crackdown 3 is a lesson in disappointment. The much-hyped Xbox One exclusive has finally been released after five years in various stages of development, but it’s not clear what they’ve been up to in all that time. 

It’s been several years since Crackdown 2 released on the Xbox 360, but the latest game feels like more of the same. The player is placed in the shoes of a super agent, (there’s a choice of characters but 99% will pick Terry Crews’ Commander Jaxon) tasked with travelling the sprawling city of New Providence while fighting various criminals and kingpins that have taken hold. You’re generally attacked by swarms of uninspired robots, with the game ramping up the difficulty by throwing increasing numbers at you as the story wears on. Sections of the map lack any cover, so you’re constantly being shot at from all sides, but it’s easy enough to shoot everything in sight thanks to auto-aim and an abundance of weaponry.


If it sounds fun, it can be. The drawback is that it’s also pretty repetitive, and it begins to offer diminishing returns fairly quickly. The snooze factor isn’t helped by a simple 10-hour campaign which generally involves navigating the city to kill someone or blow something up. That’s about it, with no real reason to keep going to the next map marker unless you have nothing else to play. Fully destroyable Wrecking Zone maps add extra longevity, while collectables abound in the main game, which can also be played in co-op. Collectables tie into the upgrade system, which also affects you physically in-game. You’ll literally get bigger and stronger, jumping higher and further as you gain more experience. You can unlock new characters by finding DNA strands littered around the map, while driving will eventually give you access to an Agency car. Weapons also improve as you level up, so you’ll always have a choice of how to kill everything you meet.

The shading gives it a nice feel graphically, but it’s far from a looker. It’s somewhat forgivable considering the scale of the sandbox and the way you navigate buildings by climbing and jumping, and it does allow for more enemies and explosions in the background. It’s also not the easiest to control, but it does get better as you level up.


Overall, it’s not bad, but it’s not the sequel most fans were hoping for after such a long wait. It hardly improves on a game that released light years ago in terms of development, and the core gameplay is still the same. You lock on to things and shoot them, and jump around a bit. The fanfare and hype that preceded the game make it more difficult to be forgiving of the many flaws and limitations, but there’s dumb fun to be had underneath it all. Crackdown 3 is fine if you’re looking for a mindless gaming session, but it feels like a missed opportunity. It looks like a reskinned Saints Row at times, but even that would be more interesting than what we ended up with here. The series deserves better than a low budget entry that uses comic book effects for cutscenes and disappoints regularly, but it’ll probably distract you during a rainy weekend.

★★☆☆☆
James Millin-Ashmore



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Monday, 1 April 2019

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove ★★★☆☆


Another Kickstarter, another Unity project feeding off the nostalgia of days past. This time aiming for the hearts of the Mega Drive kids and it hits the Mega Drive vibes quite well. In an attempt to impress two girls,  ToeJam and Earl "borrow" someone's spaceship, to show the girls the universe... and Earth for some reason. Guess they wanted to see something volatile. Earl presses the black hole button and blows both the Earth and the spaceship to pieces. It's then down to the funky duo to find all the missing parts of the ship, that have been scattered across multiple isometric, floating levels. There are no intentions to fix the Earth, guess they figure it was already doomed, to begin with.


As you start a game you can choose if you'd like the levels to appear the same way each time or have them randomly generated. This adds a whole lot of replayability to the game as it's not really very long but that's also not a bad thing. Toejam and Earl is intended to be played multiple times and you unlock a new character after each playthrough. There are nine characters in total and it's playable with up to four people at once, online or locally. The game is fairly slow paced as you explore all the corners of each map, trying to find the elevator to the next one, and search for the missing spaceship parts. To help out along the way you find mystery presents. This mostly comes down to lots of experimenting with them, to find out what they are and what each one does. You have no idea until you open them. Although you can mostly get by without them and I found the majority of them set me back more than actually helped out. 

Just like in real life, humans are the enemy. Generally just playing the role of a nuisance and getting in Tj&E's way. Humans come in a variety of annoyances, from ice-cream men, Fbi agents, fanboys wanting pictures and people walking around absent-mindedly with their face glued to their phone screen. Thankfully they're all really easy to avoid as once you interact with anything, within the game world, they instantly forget you exist. Go push a button, knock on a house or jump in (and immediately back out of) water they'll leave you alone. As you'd expect from a funkified game, the soundtrack is mostly on point and sounds like bad 70’s porn at worst but does become repetitive quite fast.


As long as you go in not expecting anything more than a Mega Drive game, ToeJam & Earl is a nice short and enjoyable couple of hours. Just throw it on now and then, when a friend's over and you just want to chill and play some games... and you can't find your Tekken disc.
I have no idea who owns the rights, but new Comix Zone next, please.


★★★☆☆
Bry Wyatt


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Sunday, 31 March 2019

Dead or Alive 6 ★★★☆☆


I’ve never been one to take sides and call out one beat ‘em up over another, I just like fighting games and play as many of them as possible. I find they all have particular things they do better or worse than their rivals. Mortal Kombat has its brutal violence. Tekken has punishing juggles and arcade-perfect gameplay. Virtua Fighter pretends to be good, but really it’s just floaty and slow and hasn’t shown its head in 15 years. Street Fighter has fans with lightning hands, for the lengthy combo chains required to win at high-level play and Dead or Alive has boo... Multi-tiered and highly interactive level design and a counter system that’s hard to master but will help you win against even the best of players.


Sadly DoA6, like every game just mentioned, is a slight victim to the DLC plague with two of the characters locked off behind various pre-order bonuses and paywalls. All other current DLC is purely cosmetic, just character costumes, so I can happily ignore that. The game itself includes a bunch of costumes for each character to unlock in-game but doing so was a complete ballache until a recent patched helped speed that process up. So yay for patches. 

Most of the modes you’d expect to be here make an appearance with some bizarre exceptions for the series. Story Mode will take you about two hours to play through as each new segment unlocks and plays out in some Tarantino-esque, out of sequence, haphazardly told a bunch of events. Quest Mode is a set of quick challenges and objectives propositioned by the new character and crazy scientist, Nico, trying to collect information on all the fighters. These require you to finish fights meeting certain criteria and simultaneously teach gameplay elements and strategies. Arcade, survival and time attack are pretty self-explanatory. 

Training mode is really in depth, to the point of I don't understand half of the info it's possible to display on screen. You’re given frame analysis for attacks and reactions in real time, this will be really helpful to those that know how to use it correctly. Taking us to Online mode, which as of right now is Ranked Matches only. Having no lobby so I can fight against my friends is my main big complaint about the game. I don’t think any other fight has launched without this ability - just one missing an arcade mode...  *cough* Street Fighter 5 *cough* - The lobby system is supposedly coming later in March but why it was missing in the first place is anyone's guess and only goes to hurting the game’s launch. The next glaring omission is the lack of Tag Battles, which have been a series staple since DoA2.

Dead or Alive 6 sees 27 fighters enter the tournament. Two of which are the previously mentioned DLC characters, two new faces and twenty-three of which are returning characters. The new updated character models are definitely a step up from their last outing, 7 years ago. The dirt and damage modelling has also been improved with clothes getting shredded and torn as the fight draws out. Most of the gameplay is predominantly the same but with the inclusion of this gen's favourite fighting game mechanic, the special meter, allowing for some powerful finishers or some interrupting counter moves, to change the tide of the battle.


As aforementioned, the level designs of Dead or Alive are what make this game stand out from its competitors. Most stages contain many hazards and destructible elements to smash your opponent into, though or off of. A few of the new levels have bystanders stood watching as you kick the crap out of each other and will throw you back into the fight if you get too close to them. That said, many of the DoA6 stages feel less inspired and not quite as many multi-tiered as previous entries in the series, some are straight up lifted from previous games with a few new additions and hazards added. I’m yet to find a level with seemingly endless cliffs to punch someone off or a multi-walled dojo to keep kicking someone though; until you eventually go through the buildings exterior and land in the courtyard below.

I hope DoA6 can fix its few issues, as I do really enjoy the games combat mechanics, I don’t hold out much hope for a Tag Mode but an online lobby will help with the games acceptability to the masses quite a bit. Add an extra point to the score once the lobby is in there.

★★★☆☆
Bry Wyatt



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Saturday, 30 March 2019

Devil May Cry 5 ★★★★★


As we’re nearing the end of this console cycle, we're starting to see game engines other than Unreal, which has been by far the most dominantly used engine of the generation, pulling off some of the best looking games to date. Once again Capcom show us that the RE engine, originally constructed for Resident Evil 7, is more versatile than originally perceived. Resident Evil 7 was an excellent showpiece for the engine. The recent remake of Resident Evil 2 is my favourite game of the year, so far, and shows just how a remake/reimaging should be done. Hitting every nostalgia beat, whilst making enough changes to keep it fresh for those of us that picked it up twenty years ago. The engine showed it was capable of more than just horror in first person... It could make zombies terrifying again, in third person as well. Then Devil May Cry 5 comes along two months later to show it has no problem doing fast-paced, hack and slash, action games without dropping any of its graphical prowess whilst still targeting 60 frames. 


DMC's opening few stages are far wider than any of the claustrophobic environments seen during the Resident Evil games and with some boss enemies larger than an average house. That said, the camera can become an issue within some of the tighter segments of the game, getting caught up on geometry and trapped in corners. The detail in the level design and on characters clothing and faces are some of the best I've seen, and the extensive destructibility of the objects in the environment makes for some great action scenes as bookcases and books smash to pieces and fill up the room. After about mission 8 though, the level design becomes far less inspired and more or less starts to look the same, over and over, with only the odd exception. Most of it is the same hell tunnels and caves.

The opening 10 minutes of the game are more Devil May Cry than the entire 2013 DMC “reboot”, so we can all forget about that one now. DMC5 is far closer to DMC3 in the way it plays, looks and feels; with the odd elements of DMC4 showing their head. Dante, the white-haired John Wick of demon hunters, plays very similar to his outings in DMC3 and 4. He acquires a tonne of weapons and sidearms, that are all changeable on the fly, as well as his four different fight styles from DMC3 making a return; (Trickster, Gunslinger, Swordmaster and Royalguard) allowing for boundless combo potential as these are mixed up and chained together by someone with some Street Fighter levels of command input reflexes. 

Nero, Who's now out for revenge after having his arm ripped off, is still very much the same from DMC4 with his big change being that he's lost his demon arm and has replaced it with some very capable prosthetic ones, called Devil Breakers. Each different arm has a subtle variation of moves to add to Nero’s combat arsenal and change up his combos. V, somehow a more emo Kylo Ren, is the new mysterious poetry-loving guy of the group and comes with the biggest change in terms of play style. Whereas Nero and Dante are very much up close and personal, V stands off keeping his distance and commands three demons to do the fighting for him. Shadow, his black panther, does the up-close fighting and mostly excels fighting ground-based enemies. His demonic eagle thing, named Griffon, takes care of anything aerial with some decent ground attacks to boot. 

And lastly Nightmare, a big golem that V can summon once his Demon Trigger meter has been charged enough. I found the V sections of the game to be the more boring of the levels and just wanting to get back to being Dante or Nero. Standing back and mashing buttons never came off as very fun. An auto assist option is available from the start, that even the game recommends not using, which basically makes chain combos, for all characters, much easier with fewer button inputs and simplified commands.


The story plays out by jumping back and forth in the timeline. All of the game’s missions and cutscenes start with a date and time and load in with a timeline chart, so you don't end up too lost of when events are happening. This plays out particularly well as many of the levels are parallel to one another, showing what each character was up to at any given time. This is where the online crossover mechanic come in. During a lot of the stages any time another character is in a scene or in the distance fighting,  it's likely another real player in control. Mostly they're on their own path and don't interact with your own gameplay, aside from the odd occasion, but this is quite cool to see and wasn't something I was expecting. The game is possibly one of the shorter of the Devil May Cry titles, but the intention is to go back and redo levels with the other characters adding much to the replayability.

If you're a fan of the originals or just after a new hack and slash adventure because you've already played God of War to death, I couldn't recommend this more. Now I need a new Ninja Gaiden and DMC6.

★★★★★
Bry Wyatt



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Friday, 29 March 2019

Soul Calibur 6 ★★★☆☆


Welcome to the stage of history... retold. Because Namco has now changed the game's lore more times than they've changed the name of the series and assumed someone was paying close enough attention to the story, that they might pick up on the plot holes of a demonic sentient sword and its goody goody twin (that was probably the school snitch).


Soul Calibur 6 feels like it was built for people who like to play alone. The game is full of single player content, which is good because right now the online doesn't work quite right. Hopefully, all the issues will be fixed soonish but currently it has problems finding matches and horrible input delay (which is also present in offline modes). This likely won't bother anyone after a casual match, with friends, but is quite noticeable when trying to time a block/parry at the last second; when you now have to somehow predict your opponent's move before they even know they're about to do it. Aside from the standard Arcade Mode, there's an additional Story mode called Soul Chronicle's which starts in 1584 and plays out over 8 years of the game's timeline, with a main focus on Kilik. Kilik's story takes around an hour to get through and then you have the remaining twenty-ish character’s stories to play out. Using a rather cool timeline menu, you get to see where all the events of these eight years overlap and characters come in to play. 

Still not done with single player content, Libra of Soul (yup, just Soul. Singular and awkward to read out loud) plays like a visual novel with RPG elements and combat. You start out by creating a character from the games rather decent character creator. If you have the time, patience and imagination it's possible to create some really cool things. Libra has you wondering a basic world map, levelling up and earning gold for new weapons with better stats. I'm glad it's back after being missing from the last couple of entries, but I was a bit disappointed that this mode didn't grab me the same way Conquest Mode, Mission's Mode, or Weapon Master Mode, from the earlier titles did. I ended up skipping past the bad story to just get to the fights, but at that point, I may as well just have been playing Arcade mode.

The series has always balanced the “easy to pick up and play but hard to master” thing fairly well and six is no exception. The pace of the game seems to have been picked up somewhat and a ton of new mechanics have been implemented. While they look nice and flashy, I'm not really a fan of the added Critical Edge attacks. An ultra move, as made popular by Street Fighter and recently added into Tekken (7). These change fight situations with the implied opportunity for a comeback, when in reality it becomes more strategic to get your ass handed to you and then execute your Critical Edge, with a simple press of one button. While these have been toned down a lot since the beta, a few of them still feel very unbalanced and will become mildly frustrating to newcomers who aren't aware of the timing required to avoid them. The next new mechanic is called Reversal Edge and one stolen from DC's Injustice, where you play a visual version of rock, paper and scissors for who gets to attack (Square beats circle, circle beats triangle and triangle beats square).


It's rather weird Namco are trying to reboot the game's storyline, as it's always best not to think too much about Soul Calibur, otherwise, it all falls apart anyway. There're characters that wouldn't exist within the same centuries, lizard men, sentient mannequins, Taki's iconic spandex ninja suit wouldn't exist for another 400 years, a pirate that died when the game was still called Soul Edge, a German Berserk fan that turns into a Tyrant from Resident Evil and a fire skeleton from another dimension. Using their broken timeline they've always managed to acquire interesting guest characters. SC2 had Link or Spawn, depending on what console you were playing on) and SC4 had Yoga and Darts Video. Soul Calibur 6 get Geralt, from the Witcher series, and he fits the game surprisingly well. There are notable absences in the roster, but it wouldn't be a current gen game without some controversial DLC packed on top. The first character announced is 2B, from NieR Automata. I'd take a guess we'll also see some older fan favourites such as Rock and Hwang, from Soul Blade (but that's purely speculation). If Namco is listening, I'd buy another port of Soul Calibur and Soul Calibur 2 HD.

★★★☆☆
Bry Wyatt


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Thursday, 28 March 2019

Annihilation ★★★★★


‘Annihilation’ (directed and written by Alex Garland) was described as a bit of a risk before it came out, with the premise that it would be too intellectual, too trippy, and really just too much for the audience. It was sold to Netflix who thankfully went ahead with it and I’m glad because a really interesting sci-fi moving has come from it – originally a book and now adapted for the big screen.

Lena (Natalie Portman) is a cellular biology professor with a soldier background and her husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac), has been away for around a year on a covert operation. He finally comes back as the only surviving member of his team but things quickly turn bad, and Lena finds herself being asked to enter The Shimmer, a mysterious expanding zone that scientists just can’t seem to explain, to investigate why his team were killed in there, and to find more about what it going on within. With an all-female crew of military scientists led by psychologist Dr Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) she ventures into the unknown, determined to get the answers that will help her husband.


The whole concept of ‘Annihilation’ is fascinating, and generally I’ve found with sci-fi that combining it with another area of interest really adds to how good it is. ‘FILM’ did this really well by looking at an alien invasion from a linguistic perspective, and now ‘Annihilation’ has done a similar thing but with a biological perspective. Even without the plot behind it I found it so interesting, and once I’d witnessed The Shimmer I was completely pulled into the film.

Aside from the plot, The Shimmer also stands out because of it’s incredibly stunning graphics – so many colours, and such realism. The CGI team have really outdone themselves with this one, and it’s so pleasing to look at. The high level of CGI is also used to create a real sense of uneasiness and horror during scenes – some such scenes are horrifically gory and stayed long in my mind after I’d watched them, and others aren’t gory at all (or even scary) but are so realistic that it’s quite disturbing to witness. The film is intense, as the makers predicted, but it’s that trait that makes it so absorbing to watch.

This intensity is not only apparent in graphics – the sound is so well-done as well and complements the visual side perfectly. You find yourself feeling so tense and unsettled at times because of it, especially when added to the fact that we as an audience are kept so in the dark about things. We know there’s something out there but we’re not quite sure what, and so share those anxieties with the team. 

The lead actresses are also superb in their role and bring to us characters so developed and real that you can’t help but feel as if you are journeying with them. From the alpha Anya (Gina Rodriguez) to the reserved leader Dr Ventress, every character has something to contribute and their individual story is just as intriguing as the next. It’s refreshing to see a film so female-heavy, and these women certainly prove that gender isn’t a factor when it comes to raw acting talent.


I can understand why people were worried about the reception to the film – it is incredibly thought-provoking and ambitious, with some really surreal scenes at times. It asks us some very big questions and I don’t think the answers are what we want to hear, but it’s important to portray that within cinema as life isn’t all happy endings and humans coming out on top. Not everyone will want such a philosophical and intellectual film as ‘Annihilation’ and that’s okay, but if that is what you want then you just can’t miss out on it. 

★★★★★
Hannah Read



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Apex Legends ★★★★☆


Apex Legends is the latest free-to-play battle royale game to hit the market, coming out early in February with no marketing or prior announcements. Originally intended to be a sequel in the Titanfall series, Apex has dropped the giant mechs in favour of team-based combat on the ground, and it’s surprisingly good considering the stealth release.


Blackout, PUBG, and Fortnite have secured a majority of the market, but Apex is already carving out a piece of the pie with 25m players worldwide. I decided to give it a try on the second day, dropping into a hectic world where half of my teammates didn’t know how to aim properly, and the other half seemed to already have mastery of the game. Aside from a brief tutorial, there’s nothing stopping anyone with an internet connection, Gold/PS+ and a console from hopping on, so my first few games involved running around like a headless chicken while following more experienced teammates. It was taking a while to adjust, so I convinced a couple of friends to join in, downloading it in time for day three. 

Apex improves on the battle-royale formula in a number of incremental ways. The Jumpmaster is a randomly selected player who decides where the team goes, so you don’t have to worry about wayward members being left behind. The characters compliment each other in a number of ways, and there’s no real OP trio as of yet. Communication is simplified with the use of different tags for enemies and locations with the quick tap of a button, so it’s easier to show where you’re being shot at from. (Or at least, it should be in theory.)

Neither of my friends had bothered to pay attention to the tutorial, so I was forced to talk them through what the tags meant, and how they worked. One flat out refused to continue playing because of the complexity involved with pressing R1, while the other failed to grasp the concept, although he probably wasn’t listening in the first place. If you hadn’t guessed, we struggled for a few hours, barely making it to the top 10 once or twice. A dedicated team is ideal if you want a chance at being the kill leader, which comes with bragging rights and your name lit up throughout the match. Sadly, even my two useless friends were more help than the average teammate you’ll find online, but the player base is getting better as the game slowly begins to mature.


Gunplay is fast and fluid, with 20 weapons found dotted around the map and dropped in via supply drops during games. Movement feels weighty and the guns do a fair amount of damage, so it’s less frustrating than facing level 2/3 armour in Blackout. The map is compact compared to everything else, so there’s always a good chance that you’ll see an enemy team as you move into the next circle. It looks and feels great, and the shooting is as tight as you’d expect from Respawn Entertainment, who made the classic Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

It really depends on what you’re looking for from your battle royale game. If you’re sick of Fortnite and PUBG, and team-based action sounds compelling, there’s a good chance that Apex Legends could be right up your street. 

★★★★☆
James Millin-Ashmore

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Wednesday, 27 March 2019

The Umbrella Academy ★★★★☆


The Umbrella Academy is the latest superhero adaption to hit Netflix, despite the streaming platform recently cancelling popular Marvel shows like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. It features a group of gifted children who were taken in by an eccentric billionaire, who aims to train them to stop the end of the world. In an alternate reality where JFK survived, nothing makes sense and the audience are faced with more questions than answers as the story unfolds.


The show kicks off with the death of the children’s mentor, Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). He’s as callous as they come, evidenced by the way he named the kids in the numerical order in which he bought them. Number One/Luther Hargreaves (Tom Hopper) is almost impossibly large with extreme strength, and takes on a role as a leader of the group. Number Two/Diego (David Castañeda) has the ability to always hit his intended target. is Allison/Number Three (Emmy Raver-Lampman) has the power to warp minds through suggestion, Klaus/Four (Robert Sheehan) is an addict who can converse with the dead, while Five (Aidan Gallagher) can travel through space and time. Justin H Min plays the deceased Ben/Number Six, with a Kraken-esque power, while last, (and least) Ellen Page plays Vanya, with no discernable talents aside from playing the violin. Phew.

We still haven’t been through half of the main characters, and the full ensemble splits the action between a range of perspectives during each episode. Casting is a particularly strong point, as each of the students has a distinct feel and personality. The same goes for actors in supporting roles, which include contract killers, a Stepford android, and a talking chimp. It’s not as outrageous as it sounds, and it tries to ground itself in reality wherever possible.

As a deconstruction of similar shows like X-Men, The Umbrella Academy shows the potential for things to go wrong within such a dysfunctional setup. Children are always going to struggle in an unhappy environment, and powers come with complications you’d expect. People don’t take well to having their minds warped, while The Sixth Sense already showed that “seeing dead people” probably isn’t ideal for kids. The hierarchy of the group isn’t always firmly established, and it’s fun to see them bickering after spending the last few years apart since Ben’s death.


The premise is well worth an expensive first season, and a lot of the show takes place in the sprawling academy, which drips with detail. From the bedrooms to the art on the walls, it looks lived in, with similar attention paid to other settings throughout. Of course, it’s not perfect, and some parts do drag over the 10 episodes. Some plot threads are slower than others, and the lack of mobile phones or the internet, (possibly due to the changed timeline) lead to problems that would probably be solved with a quick call in our universe. It’s worth persevering with slower scenes to appreciate the story coming together at the end, with a strong finale and a strong sequel hook. 

★★★★☆
James Millin-Ashmore



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Anthem ★★☆☆☆


After the lukewarm reception to ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ a few years ago, a lot of Bioware fans were pinning there hope on ‘Anthem’, a multiplayer/RPG hybrid looter shooter. From when it was originally shown years ago there was a lot of promise in the game and also a lot of hope from RPG fans around the world that it would be able to compete with the likes of ‘Destiny’ and ‘The Division’.
I’m going to start by saying that on a purely graphics side the game is utterly beautiful, whether you’re flying around in the open world or walking through your main hub, a gorgeously rendered city. This really is something that ‘Anthem’ does well, and the main characters you interact with are also very well done, with amazing attention to detail and great facial animations (unlike ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’). Sure, the world is pretty, but what’s the point of a beautiful game without anything to actually do within it?


‘Anthem’ has a main story campaign which will take you between 15 and 20 hours to complete and it includes some exciting missions, however, these are intertwined with some awful trials which just seemed to me like padded outside content with no real purpose. I got the feeling they were shoehorned in purely to increase the length of the main game, which isn’t particularly inspiring. These types of games are supposed to shine with this extra content once the main story is completed, but sadly ‘Anthem’ lacks in this respect.

There is no raid at launch and only a few strongholds (known as strikes in the ‘Destiny’ series) which are all repeatable, but after a few hours of doing the same grind and with a roadmap of content for the next 90 days just released by Bioware showcasing little to be playing the game for, I am still a little concerned about what I will be doing in the next few months.

The gameplay, however, can be quite exhilarating – your character is human but plays the majority of the game locked up inside a Javelin, a highly capable suit that can exhibit incredible feats of athleticism and fly around like Iron Man. You have a vast array of weapons and abilities which are all interchangeable based on the loot drops from fallen enemies and caches within the world. This brings about a whole other issue though – for some reason, the developers decided it would be a good idea to only allow gear/ability changes whilst in the main hub, which is infuriating and leads to a myriad of loading screens (which I assumed we were trying to move away from, but obviously not everyone follows this line of thought).

I think the problem is that ‘Anthem’ feels like it should have come out about four years ago. The developers haven’t learnt from the mistakes that games like ‘Destiny’ and ‘The Division’ made, even though these are being rectified by their own developers in the latest releases. This leads it to fall short of its competitors and makes it feel like a lesser version of them.


I’m hoping that in time there will be updates and content releases from Bioware that will be able to fix these gameplay issues, and hopefully ‘Anthem’ will eventually become the full package we were all expecting. At launch, there just haven’t been enough for us to play with and despite being given a glimpse of something that could be incredible, it just doesn’t feel like a finished product. 

★★☆☆☆
Hannah Read



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