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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

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

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.


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.


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.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Old Harry's Game S2 (Guest review by Reecey).

Old Harry's Game
Series 2

(Guest review by Reecey.)

Alright, have a trigger warning.

Or two, I suppose, this series deals with suicide and there’s some semi-non consensual groping.

If these things cause you distress, do yourself a favour and stop reading.

After this, the previous warning about this being set in hell still applies.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The 100 S4

The 100
Series 4

You know, I think I'm ready for The 100 to quietly shuffle off this mortal coil.

In theory, this series has a really strong plot: With ALIE dead and the leftover nuclear reactors across the world melting down, Skaikru and the rest of the clans have a matter of months before a death wave will sweep over them, killing everything in its path and irradiating the surface for five years. As plan after plan fails, Skaikru's alliance with Azgeda is tested to its limit, its people start either panicking or willingly giving in to death, and people start to sicken. When a bunker is discovered beneath Polis, though, Skaikru is left to pick a hundred people to survive, and leave the rest of their people to die.

That sounds like a really interesting, forceful plot, right? Well, it is, from about episode nine onwards, in a series of thirteen episodes. Those last four episodes are must-watch television: Gripping, genuinely fascinating, involving complex moral choices and questions of fealty to one's people versus fealty to a greater ethical ideal.

There's an air of uncertainty hanging over the last four episodes where it really feels like anyone could die -- and in a good way, not in a 'we're going to kill off Lincoln and Lexa for shock value' way. 

'And it was all ye-e-ellow.'

The show's decision to have Jasper, a character who's been in the show since the first episode, be genuinely and openly suicidal throughout the series, and then to actually follow through on that, having him commit suicide in one of the most heartbreaking scenes the show has had, is actually a surprisingly brave turn in a television landscape where almost every other show would have had him decide to live. 

Jasper's not the only one to die, either. Roan, Azgedan king and long-time sometimes-ally-sometimes-enemy, dies in episode ten after being a staple of the series for a good two years; Luna, a major character in both this series and the last, dies in the same episode. None of these deaths feel like they exist purely for shock value -- they finish certain storylines, bring character arcs full circle, add to the story rather than taking away.

Similarly, the show teases that Raven might die, and for a while it really looks like she might -- and when she actually survives, choosing her own intellect over the knowledge that the remnants of ALIE give her, it's not just a nice moment to cap off her character arc for this series, it's also genuinely a relief. When Clarke survives the death wave, it's almost a surprise, and it too is a relief.

All of this makes it sound like I should be praising the series to high heavens, but the eight episodes leading up to that point are dire.

It was clear that this series was written with a clear idea of how it would end, and not a clear idea of how to make getting there actually compelling to watch, so for the first eight episodes, the series meanders around, ambling from plot point to plot point with nothing really having any impact. The characters work on an obviously doomed project to turn Arkadia into a shelter; the characters work on Nightblood experiments that only really lead to Clarke surviving; everyone's allied with Azgeda, and then they aren't, and then they are, and then they aren't; Octavia seems to die but doesn't die and then she has a romance with someone and then she returns to the plot, eventually.

It just goes on and on and on, with each episode somehow less compelling than the last, an endless holding pattern of 'people try things, and those things fail,' backed up by so, so much meaningless fluff. 

The best example of this is that in episode two, Bellamy makes a The 100 Moral Decision (tm), where he chooses to turn a hydro-generator into a bomb to save some people rather than take it back with them and provide clean water for Arkadia. You know how much impact that decision has on the series as a whole? Almost none! By episode four, it is forgotten, and by episode five, Arkadia is gone, so it's a moot point.

Similarly, episode four shows the alliance with Azgeda breaking down. Do you know how much impact that has? Almost none! By part-way through episode five, they're allies again, agreeing to share Arkadia, until even that is rendered moot about ten minutes later.

The idea is clearly meant to be that tension is ramped up as more and more options are closed off to the cast, but what it actually is is 'things happen and then it doesn't matter that they happened,' and that's not a plot, that's a waste of three-hundred-and-thirty-six minutes of my time. Five point six hours of nothing.

The show is renewed for a fifth series, which will apparently have an evil corporation as the villains, because if there's one thing that hasn't been done to death, it's evil corporations being villains in post-apocalyptic science fiction. Woo. Woo.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Doctor Who S36E9: Empress of Mars

Doctor Who
Series 36, Episode 9
Empress of Mars.

So, long time readers or really anyone who read last week's review may recall that I said that this episode would almost certainly be pretty middling and unremarkable, as most of the series has been so far. Well, colour me pleasantly surprised, because I actually really enjoyed this episode -- it's not the best episode that this show has ever done, but it's definitely among the best ones this series, at least, which honestly came as a shock.

This episode is written by Mark Gatiss, who along with Moffat I think is the only writer who has remained with the show for the entirety of New Who, with his first episode, The Unquiet Dead, having been the third episode of Russell T. Davies' first series. Traditionally, Gatiss' work has always been pretty mediocre: Most of his episodes are eminently forgettable, and the ones that aren't are only memorable for how they failed to follow through on interesting concepts.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Attack on Titan S2E11: Charge

Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 11

We're very almost at the end of this series now, and it's been fun, and has picked up considerably these last few episodes, managing to deliver a pretty good mix of lore, emotional moments, and people swinging around on high tension ropes with air jets, so that's all good. A third series is still up in the air, obviously, but if this series receives as much praise (and ratings) as is usual for an Attack on Titan series, it's all but a certainty.

Carrying on immediately from the last episode, this episode sees Reiner fleeing the Forest of Giant Trees, with the Scout Regiment in hot pursuit. As Ymir struggles with her divided loyalties and the probability that she'll die if she doesn't hand Christa over, Jean, Sasha, Connie, Mikasa, and Armin attempt to find an opportunity to snatch Eren, and also to discover why Bertholdt betrayed them. Meanwhile, Erwin circles around to begin a daring -- and potentially catastrophic -- plan to retrieve Eren.

Friday, 9 June 2017

No Post Today.

Hey, guys. Just like how there was no post in the aftermath of Brexit, there's no post today -- I was up until eight with election stuff, so we're skipping today.

We'll be back tomorrow though with an Attack on Titan review, and then back to our regular schedule next week with Doctor Who, Attack on Titan, E3 round-up, and more.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Yes, Minister S1 (Election Special Guest Review by Reecey)

Yes, Minister
Series 1
(Election Special Guest Review by Reecey.)

So, welcome to Reecey’s Election Day Extravaganza!

It’s been a nightmarish seven weeks, but it’s very almost over. Should be done by noon tomorrow, hopefully earlier.

In honour of the third major election in less than a year (we had some local elections and the new combined authority mayors that are supposed to stand in for the devolved government that England has been disallowed) let’s cover some good old political comedy, shall we?

All the better, the very first episode deals with the immediate aftermath of a general election.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier E4+E5: Thicker Than Water & From The Gallows

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier
Episode 4 + Episode 5:
Thicker Than Water & From The Gallows.

Let this be a lesson to you, kids: If you delay writing your review of an episode of a Telltale Games series because you have nothing new to say about it, and never have anything new to say because they're the video game equivalent of spun sugar, then eventually the episode after that will come out, and you'll have to review two at once, and have double the absolute dearth of interesting observations.

This shouldn't be this difficult, right? Even if you stripped away the gameplay entirely, you'd still have an hour and a half story -- I regularly review things with much less content than that -- but the problem with Telltale's fare is that there's also just not that much story. Padded as it is with quicktime events, occasional 'walking around' segments, and meaningless dialogue choices in over-long, empty conversations, the actual story is pitifully short.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Arrow S5 (Second Act)

Series 5
(Second Act).

I gave the first half of this series a pretty positive review, which boded fairly well for the second half -- let's face it, the key problem with every American television show is that their pre-Christmas storylines all tend towards being very, very slow -- which promised to tell us who Prometheus is and see him and Oliver to a final confrontation of sorts.

It didn't so much live up to that expectation. In fact, this second act has been so monumentally unmemorable that I might actually have trouble reviewing it, but let's give it a shot.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Doctor Who S36E8: The Lie of the Land

Doctor Who
Series 36, Episode 8
The Lie of the Land.

I've been rather looking forward to this episode, and not just because it represents the two-thirds mark of a series that has so far been very slow. Despite them being far and away not the most imaginative villains this franchise has, I do like the Monks as villains, and I was pretty hyped both to see what seemed to be a large scale altering of the timeline, and to find out how the whole thing about consent and love factored into it.

What I got was, in a lot of ways, quite disappointing.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Attack on Titan S2E10: Children.

Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 10

We're almost at the end of this series of Attack on Titan, which means that it's time for me to start consider what my next anime ongoing will be. Right now, it looks like it'll probably be either Knight's and Magic or  The Reflection, so either one will at least be a significant change of pace from 'that anime where really big people eat other, less big people.'

Anyway, when we left off last week, the Scout Regiment was about to reach the Forest of Giant Trees, where Reiner and Bertholdt were hiding out with the captured Ymir and Eren, setting us up nicely for some chasing and battling antics in this episode.

So, does this episode deliver on that promise? Eh, sort of, but what it lacks in battling and chasing shenanigans it makes up for with some interesting backstory and lore additions.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Editorial: E3 2017 -- Hopes, Nightmares, Expectations.

Editorial: E3 2017
Hopes, Nightmares, Expectations.

E3's just around the corner, so with that in mind, let's quickly talk about some of the games we at Fission Mailure are hoping will show up at the expo, and our hopes, nightmares, and expectations for them.

Kingdom Hearts III.

Now having been in the air -- whether being procrastinated on or actually developed -- for over a decade, Kingdom Hearts III has gained some publicity in the run-up to E3, with a leak declaring it would be at E3 with a 2018 release date announced, shortly before Square-Enix remarked it would be appearing 'within the next three years or so.' Since fans were promised more news on it would be materialising in winter of 2016, people are understandable anxious.

Hopes: A full trailer, with a strong story theme, gameplay done with the game engine, and at least a release window of a year or a season, if not an actual release date. Potentially short bits of gameplay footage separate to the trailer. Some confirmation on who, if anyone, have replaced the sadly departed Leonard Nimoy and Christopher Lee.

Nightmares: It's never mentioned. At all.

Expectations: A trailer which is fifty percent or more stuff we've already seen, with a 'Coming Soon' label slapped on it for a release date. The ever ominous 'Not in-game footage.'

Call of Cthulhu.

Call of Cthulhu, a horror role-playing game based loosely on the tabletop RPG of the same name, and the short story by H.P. Lovecraft, will definitely be showing up at E3, that much has been confirmed. In what capacity and how much information they'll give out is anyone's guess, although the game does have a release window of later this year.

Hopes: A meaty trailer that tells us about the story. Plenty of gameplay footage, and opportunities for reporters to play part of the game themselves. A firm release date, and a reaffirmation of what platforms it'll be on.

Nightmares: The same trailer that showed at E3 2016, only the release window has been replaced by 'in development.' Nobody remarks on this at all.

Expectations: This close to release, I'd expect to see hints that it's complete or nearly complete, but it wouldn't surprise me if we find out the release date has been bumped to early next year.

Dragon Age 4.

We know Dragon Age 4 is coming eventually, but it's one of the more fanciful items on this list -- it's neither been teased for E3 nor confirmed at all, so an announcement for it would be a considerable surprise for fans. Still, Inquisition is three years old now, and Trespasser, the last DLC, came out two years ago. With Andromeda having drawn a lot of harsh criticism, Bioware and EA might well want some good publicity in their pocket.

Hopes: An announcement trailer that tells us a little bit of the story and maybe even shows us some gameplay, with at least a speculative release window.

Nightmares: "Hey, guys. We decided we're not doing any more Dragon Age games, but look, here's some Mass Effect: Andromeda DLC!"

Expectations: We'll hear nothing about it. Maybe, at best, we'll have a tiny announcement trailer confirming that it's coming soon.

Death Stranding.

It's fairly likely that Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro's 'open world action' game, devised after the total collapse of Silent Hills, will be at E3. Of course, we've seen Death Stranding teasers before, but they've always been abstract, art film affairs, with little to no hint as to what the gameplay or story is like.

Hopes: A trailer with actual gameplay. Some inkling of what the plot is, other than 'sort of creepy.' Even speculative gameplay will do.

Nightmares: A teaser that is all abstract, creepy imagery again, with no substance. No gameplay, story details, or release date.

Expectations: A teaser that is all abstract, creepy imagery, but maybe with a tiny hint of a plot. No release date, but maybe a very broad release window.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

The Lake House (Guest review by Reecey).

Quick update: Reecey has put a supplementary piece for this review up on her own blog, so go check that out.

The Lake House.
(Guest review by Reecey.)

Since I’m still not comfortable posting what was supposed to be last week’s review, I’m going to review the 2006 film The Lake House.

(I was going to put it up next week, but I have an election special planned, so it’s going up on the fifteenth. God willing.)

Now, quick backstory, The Lake House is a remake of the 2000 Korean film Il Mare or Siworae? I’m not sure, wikipedia is kind of unclear on this. Have some Hangul to be sure: 시월애.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Let's take a short break from what is going to swiftly become a small deluge of television reviews, and talk about a film currently out in cinemas: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the long awaited sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy and the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Long-time readers of this blog, or really just anyone who has talked to me about the MCU, will know that Guardians of the Galaxy is my favourite film in the Marvel canon of live-action films: It was a lively, fun space opera that its creators were clearly passionate about, with a cool modernised-80s aesthetic, enough comedy and action to keep me hooked, and an at least halfway decent (if not especially groundbreaking) plot. Chris Pratt -- who has now seemingly committed himself to turning audiences against him by making baffling remarks about how white men are under-represented in films -- was the surprise breakout actor of 2014, and it wasn't difficult to see why.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Doctor Who S36E7: The Pyramid at the End of the World

Doctor Who
Series 36, Episode 7
The Pyramid at the End of the World.

Sometimes, sometimes, the critical reaction to Doctor Who episodes make me feel like I'm going a little bit mad. Because after no end of critics giving warm and enthusiastic praise to what has, thus far, been a very middling, milquetoast series in my eyes, we have those same critics saying that this episode is 'nothing special.'

That surprises me, because I'd say that this is easily the best episode we've had this series. It's still not really a scratch on any of Doctor Who's really good episodes, but it's a significant step up from any of the episodes we've seen so far in this series, with an interesting concept and a certain amount of spark and zeal that has been missing in the previous six episodes.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Attack on Titan S2E9: Opening.

Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 9

We are now officially three quarters of the way though the series. It really has flown by, and while the action is kicking into high gear now, the fact that this is only a twelve episode series means that, in hindsight, those early character focus episodes (not to mention almost the entirety of last week's episode) do feel somewhat wasted. Mileage might vary on that one: For people who enjoy more of a heavy character focus, and who like getting a lot of backstory, those episodes might not have felt wasted at all. 

For me, personally, I feel like it would have been more worthwhile to cram more plot in.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Agents of SHIELD S4 (Second and Third Acts)

Agents of SHIELD
Series 4 (Second and Third Acts).

So, gosh, this series has had a slightly odd structure. While American television shows are usually absolutely in love with a two act structure, owing to how the entire industry apparently grinds to a stop during December, January, and much of February (that is and will always be weird), Agents of SHIELD instead opted for a three act -- or possibly three arc -- structure this year.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Guest Editorial: Godric Gryffindor Makes No Sense

Godric Gryffindor Makes No Sense
(Guest Editorial by Reecey).

I had a review all written by Monday afternoon, but considering the events of that night, I’m not comfortable putting up that review this week.

So, in the meantime, I’m going to talk a lot about Harry Potter.

Specifically how the presented history of Hogwarts, and Godric Gryffindor in particular, don’t make a lot of sense in the context of British history.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Flash S3E23: Finish Line

The Flash
Series 3, Episode 23
Finish Line.

So, I said last week that there was still the possibility of Iris coming back, and HR would somehow be involved in her doing so -- but what I didn't catch on to (but plenty of other fans did) was that HR could have taken her place. Well done, internet, for figuring that one out. Truth be told, until I saw those theories online, I had completely forgotten that HR even had technology for changing his face.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Supergirl S2E22: Nevertheless, She Persisted

Series 2, Episode 22
Nevertheless, She Persisted.

So, we're finally here at the finale of this series. Thoughts on the series as a whole? It was fun, but not a scratch on the first series, and I think that largely comes down to Cat not being in most of this series -- because the episodes that she's in were all consistently of the quality I'd expect from the first series.

I'm not certain what it is: Maybe it's because Cat's presence forces the writers to work in a healthy balance of Kara's life vs Supergirl's life, rather than focusing exclusively on the DEO. Maybe it's because her being there makes everyone else be better written, since she becomes a focal point for the 'inspirational' aspect of the show. Or maybe it's just that she's the crucial element that ties the show together. She's comparable, in a way, to Harrison Wells in The Flash -- the series can function without her, but it will never be as good.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Doctor Who S36E6: Extremis

Doctor Who
Series 36, Episode 6

This is a very Moffat episode -- it's telling that this is the first one he's written since the first episode, because it involves him falling back on what Moffat always falls back on when he's struggling: Layers of unreality and other perception-bending shenanigans. Moffat is, as a rule, pretty good at ramping up tension and mystery by implying that some or all of the world is unreal somehow, or having the protagonists' realities compromised, but he doesn't half have a bad tendency towards overusing it.

If you think I'm exaggerating there, I want you to remember that of the last five series, four of them have had overarching plots that hinge on reality somehow not being as real as it appears. He uses this idea a lot.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Attack on Titan S2E8: The Hunters

Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 8
The Hunters.

We are now officially two thirds of the way through this series. It feels like it's flown by, and the next four episodes are likely to fly by even quicker, especially as it doesn't seem likely that we'll get any more character focus episodes (well, unless Jean gets one).

Friday, 19 May 2017

Once Upon A Time S6 (Second Act).

Once Upon A Time
Series 6 (Second Act).

So, prior to the penultimate episode of this series, I actually had no idea that series six was meant to serve as a soft ending to the series -- a 'soft ending' here meaning that Emma's story, as well as the stories of the majority of the cast, would be ending, and the series would be changing its cast of characters and its central conflicts going forward.

I had a brief inkling when Rumpel remarked that all of the darkness Emma had faced had come from the Black Fairy, but given that every threat has been the biggest, worst threat ever, I didn't pay it that much mind. It wasn't until the episode that was both a musical and a wedding that I realised that no, no, this really was the end of Emma's story. A musical-wedding episode is practically the definition of 'let's go out with the biggest ratings spike we can.'

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Flash S3E22: Infantino Street

The Flash
Series 3, Episode 22
Infantino Street.

We're here at last, at the fridging episode. That's always been something of a key problem with this storyline: It's always been a very long, very drawn out fridging of Iris, and unless they use time travel or reveal that it was a trick or something to reverse that next episode, it will be sealed in my mind as 'that time a television show spent a whole series trying to justify fridging a main character,' and that'll leave a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

There is one more episode left, though, so it's always possible that Iris could return before the series is done. We'll see what happens there.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Supergirl S2E21: Resist

Series 2, Episode 21

So, Cat's back this week, and god knows she's just the shot in the arm that this show needs. Her appearance in this episode just sort of hammers in that this show needs Cat, or at least a Cat equivalent, if it's going to be as good as it can be -- and I so, so hope the CW makes the decision to move the show's filming back to Los Angeles, or works out some other deal, so that Calista Flockhart can return to the series in a more regular role. She clearly adores playing Cat, and from what I can gather, the only reason she left was because she doesn't take roles that keep her far away from home.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Doctor Who S36E5: Oxygen

Doctor Who
Series 36, Episode 5

Let's talk about a problem that Doctor Who has.

Doctor Who is, in essence, a monster-of-the-week show with a sci-fi twist, a product of its reputation as a show that people hide behind their sofas from, et cetera -- and as a result, there's a certain amount of pressure on the writers to have monsters of some kind in every episode.

Except sometimes the monster is just a glaring distraction from what could be a very serviceable and very interesting science fiction plot. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Attack on Titan S2E7: Close Combat

Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 7
Close Combat.

We interrupt this series of Attack on Titan to bring you a suspiciously well-made MMA anime, complete with a cheering crowd, lingering shots of muscular bodies, grappling holds, characters standing back and explaining what techniques are being used, and flashbacks to being trained by an old friend. It's practically a Hajime no Ippo episode, just on a much bigger scale, and with a looming Colossal Titan in the background.

Speaking of, I didn't realise last week that Bertholdt didn't actually form the entirety of his Titan form, instead just sort of perching on the wall, attached to it by a bunch of bones, like a giant boss in a hack and slash game. Well, it's a strategy, I suppose, as is his 'release waves of steam and wait' strategy.

Friday, 12 May 2017

What We're Watching 12/5/17

This was going to be a The Walking Dead: A New Frontier review, but I swamped with work, so here's a What We're Watching instead.

What We're Watching


So, the new Yu-Gi-Oh! series has started, and its first episode is definitely a first episode in which events took place.

Not included among those events: Anybody actually playing card games? I mean, there was hacking, and AIs, and cults, and social awkwardness, and surfing, but weirdly, no actual card games. It ends on the promise of a card game.

I'm fully expecting next week's episode to start just after that duel is over.

Joke's aside, I do actually find myself kind of liking the premise and setting, and the main character -- socially awkward hacker Yusaku -- seems like an actually pretty fun and interesting character to have around.

Kingdom Hearts.

Don't ask me why, but I've been mainlining Kingdom Hearts cutscenes lately.

I know I say quite often that Kingdom Hearts is a barely coherent, overly pompous, weirdly fanfic-esque mess of a story, created by an incompetent narcissist who cannot write and whose track record with even releasing his games is dubious at best, and with a business model so bizarre and tangled it would be predatory if it weren't so baffling -- but it's important to remember that I only say those things because they're true. They're all true.

That having been said, I really like Kingdom Hearts. It's not a guilty pleasure, because I don't have those, but it's one of the closest things I have to one, a game series I know is bad but adore nevertheless.

Once Upon A Time S6.

You know, if you told me I'd be enjoying the latter half of Once Upon A Time's sixth series this much, I wouldn't have believed you.

The show will apparently be ending in its current form after this series, with a new cast of characters taking the place of Emma and company, and honestly that's a good idea -- but having a clear end point in mind has allowed the writers to have a bit of fun, including an episode that was both a musical and a wedding episode, combining the two things most likely to spike your ratings.

The Black Fairy, played by Jaime Murray (formerly of Hustle) is a pretty fun villain, and her presence in the series -- as opposed to straight-up cut-price Disney villains, like OUAT's version of Hades -- definitely improves it.


Arrow's had a pretty strong series so far, and a vast improvement over the last two, which were mediocre at best and irritatingly bad at worst, but it's reaching the moment of truth that will make or break the series.

Some show's stories can survive a bad ending, but the story of Arrow's fifth series, revolving around Ollie locked in a proverbial chess game with vengeance-obsessed-ninja Prometheus, isn't one of them -- if it can't finish up this storyline in a way that feels compelling and satisfying, it will basically ruin the entire fifth series' narrative.

That would be a shame when this series has breathed new life into the show, but at the same time, if they can't pull this off, it will probably be a sure indicator that it's time to quietly retire Arrow.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Guest Editorial: Aerith Is The Worst Final Fantasy Character (Well, She's In The Top 10)

Editor's note: Reecey did actually suggest titles like 'Aerith is kind of a stupid character' or 'Aerith is the weak link in Final Fantasy VII,' but Buzzia, the God of Clickbait, has demanded a sacrifice in his name, and I am a dutiful servant.

All hail his benevolent, SEO-boosting blessings.

Guest Editorial: Aerith Is The Worst Final Fantasy Character
(Well, She's In The Top 10, At Least)

I have a list of grievances for this one.

I may as well start off with the one that’s been bothering me for the longest.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Flash S3E21: Cause and Effect

The Flash
Series 3, Episode 21
Cause and Effect

Let's set the scene: We're almost at the end of the series. Caitlin has betrayed the team (if not entirely willingly); Tracy is hard at work on a Speed Force prison for Savitar, but her success could potentially be compromised if Savitar gets wind of it; the deadline for saving Iris looms ever closer; and Savitar's identity has been revealed. We're in the final stretch of the third series now, the episode where the tension hits a fever pitch.

How should we deal with the fallout of the reveal of Savitar's identity? How should we up the stakes and back the heroes into a corner? At this point in the first series, Thawne was finishing his device, and had Eddie in his clutches; and at this point in the second series, Barry was trapped in the Speed Force while Zoom assembled an army of metahumans.

Well, let's have a light-hearted, comedic episode about memory shenanigans.

That's not to say I dislike this episode, but it's oddly jarring to have something so lighthearted inserted this late in the series, especially as it doesn't really have any kind of lasting impact: At the end of the episode, the team is basically at the same point that they were at the beginning, except that now Tracy has finished the Speed Bazooka.

Beginning immediately after episode twenty, this episode sees Savitar explaining how he was a time remnant that Barry created to help defeat Savitar, but that he was rejected by the people closest to him, which combined with his grief over Iris' death, caused him to become Savitar. After Barry relays this back to Team Flash, Cisco has an idea: Prevent Barry from forming new memories, so that Savitar can't remember their plans. When this plan goes wrong, however, wiping Barry's memory completely, the team must scramble to restore Barry's memory -- especially when a noted arsonist, Heat Monger, is freed from prison.

Wally's so pretty.

Okay, so the first hurdle this episode has is convincing me that the others -- Joe, Wally, Cisco, etc, would shun a time remnant version of Barry just because he's not 'the original,' and to be honest, I'm not sure I can believe that. Maybe, maybe you could swing it that they know he's going to become Savitar, since they've been told this story, and maybe I could then buy that Wally wouldn't accept him: But I think Joe and Cisco, at least, would do their best to comfort and stop him from turning evil. Both of them are too warm and too loving to really do anything else.

So, already Savitar's backstory is on shaky ground, and it's not helped by the fact that I really don't like him being a time remnant. It feels like a way of removing any kind of responsibility from Barry, since it's basically the show saying 'oh no, it was my evil double.'

Most of the episode, though, is committed to Barry's memory stuff, and while weirdly light-hearted, it actually was a pretty good episode. Goofy, fun Barry was a breath of fresh air, especially in a relatively grim series, and the dilemma of whether or not Barry should be given back his memories did feel like an actual dilemma, even if we all basically knew exactly how it'd turn out.

Caitlin still going full supervillain.

I've seen other reviewers remarking that the episode feels like a meta-commentary on complaints that this series is too grim, but it didn't really feel like that to me, so much as just a commentary on Barry's identity -- that is, after all, a pretty key concern of the series right now, given Savitar and all.

Having Caitlin show up to help the team out was a nice touch, too, allowing the show to put in some work to justify the inevitable redemption storyline that we know she'll be getting. That said, unless it leaves her redemption for series four, the show doesn't have a lot of time with which to actually redeem her.

Our C-plot is a romance between HR and Tracy, but there's not a lot to actually say about that. It's -- there. It goes from zero to about sixty in about one scene, and ultimately doesn't have an impact on anything. I'm not wild about the pairing, but I'm not against it, either.

It's just not very interesting.

The next episode looks positively jam-packed (just -- just packed with jam) as it will apparently include Barry traveling through time to pick up Leonard Snart, the two of them doing a heist to get the Dominator power core to fuel the Speed Bazooka, Savitar fighting Wally, some kind of dual Vibing with Cisco and Caitlin, and, from the looks of it, the fated day where Savitar is going to try to kill Iris.

It's difficult to imagine how they'll fit so much in one episode, but I look forward to seeing them try.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Supergirl S2E20: City of Lost Children

Series 2, Episode 20
City of Lost Children.

You know, this episode had an uphill battle as far as my actually enjoying it goes: It is, after all, an episode largely about Jimmy's totally useless Guardian storyline, and Mon-El. That's not exactly a winning elevator pitch.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Doctor Who S36E4: Knock Knock

Doctor Who
Series 34, Episode 4
Knock Knock.

It would be fair to say that so far, this series has been pretty mediocre: We've had one episode which was good but not amazing, and two episodes which were neither good nor bad, so much as just forgettable. But I had high hopes for this episode, which seemed from previews to be taking a gothic horror approach, and was bringing in David Suchet, of Poirot fame, to be a creepy villain.

This week's episode sees Bill and five other students searching for a place to live, without much success -- until a mysterious man offers to let them live at an old mansion. The offer quickly turns out to be too good to be true, as during the students' first night, they begin to vanish, getting sucked into the wood one by one. As more and more of Bill's friends vanish, she and the Doctor must figure out the mystery behind the house and its landlord, before the two of them are eaten as well.