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Saturday, 24 June 2017

Dark Souls III


Dark Souls III



I know, I know, Dark Souls III came out over a year ago. I didn't play it at the time, but I picked it up not too long afterwards and started slowly working my way through it, with fairly frequent help from two friends, one of which is a regular guest contributor for my job. I picked up the Pyromancer class (after trying and failing to beat Iudex Gundyr with a few others), found it fit me like a glove, and before long had specced my character into a spellblade type thing, wielding a frost-enchanted straightsword in one hand, and both pyromancies and sorceries in the other.

Everything was going fine until I reached Upper Lothric, and then my enthusiasm just died.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Guest Editorial: James Potter - JK Rowling's Accidental Wife Beater. (TW: Domestic violence and sexual assault.) (Guest editorial by Reecey.)


Editor's note: This perhaps goes without saying, but trigger warning for discussions of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Okay, on with the guest editorial, another offering from Reecey to fill the one day a week that I'm really busy.


James Potter
JK Rowling's Accidental Wife Beater.
(Guest editorial by Reecey).



There is no way she did this on purpose.

Absolutely no possible way that a woman who wholesale lifted characters from The Worst Witch purposefully wrote the dead parents of her main character to be in an abusive relationship.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

What We're Watching 21/6/17


What We're Watching
21/6/17



Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments S2, Act 2.

I'll admit, I'm increasingly bored of Shadowhunters. It was -- and still is, really -- a promising series, taking an admittedly terrible book series and adapting it into a not-especially-deep but fun television show.

It's in a slump right now, though. The first act of the series saw main antagonist Valentine being defeated, and while the series is clearly setting up enigmatic shadowhunter Sebastian to be the new villain, at the moment the show is floundering, antagonist-less and directionless.

It still has spots of being good -- this week's episode involved the Clave becoming increasingly draconian, drawing parallels with fascist regimes and putting the protagonists squarely on the wrong side of the conflict, which is interesting if never exactly followed through on -- but until it finds some direction and a decent new antagonist, it's somewhat adrift.


Dark Matter.

I've spoken before about how ardently I love Dark Matter and Killjoys, and how much I wish for their success, so it's probably no surprise that I was pretty delighted to see that Dark Matter's third series had started.

After a very strong first outing with a superb two-parter, the third episode was more than a little bit lackluster, a rushed and half-arsed affair that seems to exist purely to wrap up Six's character arc and then summarily write him out of the show.

Dark Matter has problems when it comes to introducing new characters, with its last attempt -- introducing Devon and Nyx -- falling short of actually making them memorable characters, and eventually killing both of them off, so if it keeps trimming its cast down, eventually it's going to run out of people. We're already down from seven to four.


Digimon Universe: Appli Monsters.

Increasingly, it feels Appli Monsters has a tone problem. Obviously, it's a more light-hearted fare even by the standards of its very light-hearted franchise, but then, when it comes to dramatic moments, it struggles to communicate all of the tension and drama it wants to while still keeping that light hearted tone.

Which is how we ended up with a series of fun, happy episodic stories with the ominous threat of a traitorous teammate hanging over things, and how we got a curb-stomp losing battle against several new enemies, culminating in the seeming death of the Digimon partners, shot through with heavy amounts of comedy and whimsy.

But also, Appmon is just slowly starting to lose my interest. This isn't the first time this has happened -- The Young Hunters That Jumped Through Time lost my interest pretty quickly -- but it's still a little vexing.


Kamen Rider Ex-Aid.

Easily the most fun show on this list, Ex-Aid has surprised me with how enjoyable it is. When it first started airing, I only got a few episodes in before I grew bored, but once I picked it up again, I found that it went from being kind of dull to having me hooked surprisingly quickly.

We're approaching the series' final act, currently, and the conflict is mostly focused on Dan Masamune, father of previous main antagonist and time-manipulating Kamen Rider. That arc looks like it'll be ending soon, with Masamune probably doomed to be defeated next episode or the one after.

It's up in the air as to who will be the main antagonist after that. Perhaps Pallad will make a resurgence. Maybe Gemdeus, foreshadowed and briefly seen but not really part of the show yet, will make his appearance. Either way, I'm interested to see what happens.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Doctor Who S36E10: The Eaters of Light


Doctor Who
Series 36, Episode 10
The Eaters of Light




So, last week, I said that this episode would take us to Stonehenge, but it actually took us to Aberdeen, and an entirely different stone circle, so that's good.

This week's episode is written by Rona Munro, who is perhaps best known for the James Cycle of plays or her adaptation of Watership Down, but who is also now the only writer to have worked on both Old and New Who, having written the very last serial of Old Who (which was very well-received at the time). I do quite like Munro's work, as a rule, so I was somewhat looking forward to this episode.

Monday, 19 June 2017

E3 2017 Round-up, Part 2


E3 2017 Round-up,
Part 2.


So, after looking at our first five interesting games from E3 (catch that over here), it's time to look at five more -- covering one DLC, a lot of sequels, a lot of JRPGs, and one Supermassive game.


Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider.

So, this is an oddly daring choice.

The first DLC for Dishonored 2 (which is likely to be part one of a two part story, ala the first game's DLCs) is titled 'Death of the Outsider,' and will purportedly be about Daud and Billy setting out to kill the Outsider, aka the person who gives our protagonists all their magical powers.

Either this is a sign that they're planning to end the franchise after these DLCs, or they're going to wriggle their way around actually killing him (or, you know, any other games will be prequels).

We don't know much about the DLC yet -- just that you'll be able to play as Daud or Billy, much like how you could play as either Corvo or Emily in the main game.


Xenoblade Chronicles 2.



Xenoblade Chronicles (and its successor-but-not-really-sequel Xenoblade Chronicles X) was an enormously successful and well-received game, boasting an interesting story, time-manipulating JRPG gameplay, and a massive open world (eleven square miles, only slightly smaller than Skyrim).

Its sequel was announced for the Switch not long ago, but E3 gave us the first trailer for it, and it's -- strange, to be honest. There's an over-shiny chibi style that reminds me more of World of Final Fantasy than anything else, some really weird character designs (short-shorts with giant balloon chaps, anyone?), and the main character has the most absurd Yorkshire accent.

The trailer tells us only a little bit about the plot, which involves a world tree and a magic sword, but honestly, at this point, I think the game's success is assured just based on all the good will Monolith Soft built up with its last two Xenoblade games.


Ni no Kuni 2.



The first Ni no Kuni game might have, in other circumstances, been doomed to fall into obscurity, having fairly mediocre gameplay and a fun but not groundbreaking story. What saved it was having Studio Ghibli attached to it, instantly piquing people's interest.

It got a fairly middling response from critics, and it was up in the air for a while as to whether it would even get a sequel.

Well, a sequel -- this time sans Studio Ghibli -- is on its way, due to be released later this year, with a story about a king retaking his country after some snake guy steals it. Bandai Namco and Level-5 are pushing this game pretty hard, with Level-5's CEO insisting that this game will better fulfill the lofty ambitions of the first game.

If it succeeds in that, it will be a fun, engaging, memorable JRPG, but let's not hold out hope for that until we see it in action.


Hidden Agenda.



Until Dawn was the first game I bought for my PS4, and even though I've only played it once -- in a single, eight hour sitting -- it made a big impression on me. Supermassive Games managed, with Until Dawn, to do what David Cage has been trying to do for his entire career -- make a genuinely compelling, choice-based game. 

Well, they have a new game coming out: Hidden Agenda, about a police officer and a prosecutor attempting to track down a serial killer who booby-traps his victims to kill first responders. The game promises to have a heavy noir theme running through it, and to deal with themes of police corruption, crime, and all that good stuff.

Interestingly, Supermassive is also instituting a system where people watching can vote on what choice you make -- Telltale tried to do something similar, but the attempt fell flat on its face, so it'll be interesting to see if Supermassive can pull it off.


Beyond Good and Evil 2.

In truth, I'm not that excited for Beyond Good and Evil 2. I never played the original, and it never looked that interesting to me, so I don't have the attachment to the franchise that a lot of people have.

Still, after years of Ubisoft teasing that they might do a sequel if people buy enough of their games, they're finally making good on that promise -- we haven't seen any gameplay yet, just one (admittedly impressive) pre-rendered trailer, so it seems likely that the game is in a fairly embryonic stage of development, but if they can pull this off, Ubisoft will win back a lot of the fans that they've lost in the past five years.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Attack on Titan S2E12: Scream


Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 12
Scream.



Well, we're finally here, at the final episode of the second series. It's been fun, even if I could have happily done with less character development episodes that would ultimately not pan out to not be that important later on -- look, I like Sasha plenty, but if you're just going to have her become a total background character immediately afterwards, you may as well not bother with the flashback episode; and I definitely didn't need another iteration of the 'Eren is angry and fights stuff' flashback -- and maybe a few more explanations and a little more action.

It behooves us to say that Yasuko Kobayashi and Hiroshi Seko have done a good job -- I'm informed that rather than just doing a straight, compressed adaptation like last series, they moved events and reveals a round, bringing the reveal of Ymir's backstory forward, among other things, and for the most part, I think those changes worked really well.

Friday, 16 June 2017

E3 2017 Round-up, Part 1.


E3 2017 Round-up,
Part 1.


Man, I was kind of surprised that there were enough interesting games this year to warrant doing two editorials on this -- there are about ten I want to talk about in total, so the first five are here, and the first five will be going up early next week, so look forward to that.

Without further ado, here are some of the games that showed up this E3 that have got me relatively excited -- or interested-ish, at least.


Anthem.



Hey, guys, want to know why Bioware put a team who had never actually made a game on one of their flagship titles, leading to it being actually legitimately terrible and also weirdly conservative in its mores? Well, now we know.

Anthem, created by Bioware Edmonton, including the team for the original Mass Effect trilogy along with some Dragon Age team members, is an open world action roleplaying game involving people getting into mech suits and venturing out into a hostile sci-fi wilderness.

It remains to be seen if Anthem has the usual Bioware mainstays of choice, storytelling, and romances, but they seem to be pushing a shared-world multiplayer type thing where you can form a squad with three of your friends, which is great for people who have an internet connection good enough to pull that off, but not so brilliant for, say, me, so I hope there's a robust single-player experience.


Spider-Man.



The new Spider-Man game, called Spider-Man, is, if the last every Spider-Man game we've ever had is anything to go by, going to be a tremendous disappointment and an absolute waste of your money.

But boy howdy, you wouldn't know that from the trailer, which actually looks really fun and interesting to play, as it shows you beating up some criminals, having a boss battle, and then chasing a helicopter through the city.

Could this be the Spider-Man game that finally breaks the curse on every game with this character in? No, probably not, but maybe! Worth keeping an eye on, at least. 


Kingdom Hearts III.



Yes, I know that this didn't technically show up at E3, but at another event happening at the same time, but to hell with you, it's my blog, I can shoehorn Kingdom Hearts III into this editorial if I want to.

So, surprise of the year: Gameplay! That exists! Which we can watch again and again, like I did! I was shocked.

The trailer tells us almost nothing about the story, and is pretty conservative in its scope, taking place almost entirely in Olympus Coliseum (more or less confirmed to be the first world in the game) with a tiny little bit in Twilight Town, but it does promise that we'll get another trailer in a month, along with an announcement for a new world.

I'm very excited. I can't wait for the crushing disappointment when we do not, in fact, get a release date next month.


Code Vein.



While it was announced a while ago, we got our first proper trailer for Code Vein at E3, and already the game is the target of interest, with critics calling it 'Bandai Namco's chuunibyou phase,' 'the most absolutely cliche game to be shown in a year that has included a David Cage game,' and 'Weeb Souls.'

All of those oddly from the same critic, which is me.

Code Vein is a Souls-like game that has you playing as a vampire, apparently, in a post-apocalyptic world, apparently, and the apocalypse has made everything very anime. It's very pretty to look at, and the Souls-esque gameplay looks compelling, so there's that, I guess.


Detroit: Become Human.



Hey, did you forget David Cage exists? 

Why am I even asking, of course you didn't, and of course you didn't forget about his cyberpunk robot game, Detroit: Become Human, which has caused waves this E3 by showing us an in-depth story trailer, and gameplay (such as it is), and -- and symbols of black equality movements being -- being used as sigils for terrorist organisations, oh god, David Cage, why? Why? Why?

According to Cage himself, you can actually pick what symbols you want each side to use, so that totally solves this problem and definitely isn't just going to lead to people deliberately utilising symbols of BLM and other movements for the villains as part of some racist power fantasy where they get to 'beat' BLM.

If it seems like I'm focusing on this one bit, it's because it's a David Cage game, what do you expect me to say. You've seen Heavy Rain, it'll be more of the same.