My first hour (and a bit) with Fallout 76

I was sitting on a leather couch in an Airbnb in Malta when Todd Howard took to the E3 stage to try to convince us that the direction that Fallout would be going for the moment would be a good one. I was curious, mostly because the Fallout has been one of the few universes to have truly captured my imagination. Even though I did not not enjoy the narrative of Fallout 4 as much as 3 and New Vegas, I still craved some more Geiger counter ticking, Mirelurk shell cracking goodness.

Despite not being an online gamer and against my better judgement, I ended up pre-ordering. I thought I’d have time to access the B.E.T.A. when it was available. At least least I could get a little used to it before the whole onslaught of team players would be roaming around on the servers. I was very wrong about that because I missed all of it because I have other (less fun) priorities.

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You’d think I could figure out how to put my fists away

 

I found a spare bit of time and finally booted it up on Xbox One, with the intention of doing one hour to get a taster of things. How very optimistic of me. I spent nearly an hour in character creation. Making the same character three times. When I first came out of character creation happy with what I had…there was no sound. I quit the game and I had to start all over again. Then I myself screwed up by not naming my character and couldn’t figure out how to remedy it so I restarted again.

The character creation itself took a little getting used to, but after the third time I was much quicker. At the start it took me a second to realise what changes were being made by certain sliders. In the end I don’t think I changed the default face I picked too much. If you can’t manage to change the actual face structure too drastically or you don’t really care to, there are great options for makeup, scarring, blemishes and ageing to take your character to the next level looks-wise. The female hair selection is decent and the range of colours for both hair and makeup are great. The lipstick is a bit odd if you don’t go for a dark colour but this might not apply if you use a darker skin-tone than I did.

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Me after the third time doing this

I played around with photo mode for a second which I can’t see myself using very often. Still, as I progress and discover more of the wasteland I might end up wanting to take Instagram worthy shots, carefully applying all the filters and other effects available.

With that, my planned hour was up so I quickly toddled out of Vault 76 thanking each handyman who had goodies essential to my survival on hand for me as I left. It was a bit annoying how I couldn’t pick up anything other than what was presented to me in the vault. Mostly because I kept trying to do it and not learning my lesson.

Finally I was outside. The little time I spent out there I did have fun. After finding a machete on a corpse, I made my first few kills and looted the bodies. I even found some shacks and crafted a weapon and also made some food. However, I did not dare venture any further because guess what? You got it. Another big nasty Bethesda bug. Which is a bit of a slap in the face after downloading the 55GB update. I could not scroll and select items in the Pip-Boy, which is a pretty essential part of the game.

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Bethesda’s bugs have always been a notorious source of frustration and entertainment. Judging by the commentary surrounding Fallout 76 now that it has been launched, adding online to that has probably not done anyone any favours. For now I am stuck with the game and hopefully will get my money’s worth out of it. I don’t really have the time to play it often which may work out well as it goes through this teething stage (if I don’t have to update it every time I do have a chance to play). I am definitely still willing to give it a chance. I would probably be less so inclined had I continued with a broken Pip-Boy, luckily for Bethesda they have my money and my patience.

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The F Word: Cinderella

Are Disney Princesses really that irredeemable? As a child did I even notice all the bad things adults are now saying they stand for?  

There will always be room at the table for more diverse stories about women and girls but I see some value in the stories already told.

Cinderella is definitely no and Snow White (who I covered last week). She is very much the epitome of a hormonal teenager (as is the Prince I may add). She is obedient and will do her chores as is required, but she will react negatively if prodded. You can see this in her interactions with her animal companions, letting them know she will not put up with everything (her moaning about the clock in the morning is #relatable). Also when the invitation comes for the ball, Cinderella defiantly asks her stepmother “why not?” when told she could not attend. You could argue that this is her past life as a spoiled child breaking free every so often, which gives her character some dimension.

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*Get the Fuck Off My Dick by Vince Staples playing muffled in distance*

A Prince also features in Cinderella and as much as we all love to moan about a woman needing a man to better her situation in these films, looking at it in 2018 surely is eye opening. The opening credits song tells Cinderella not to worry, her dream of finding love will come true. However, Cinderella may not be that obsessed with finding a man. She first mentions her “dream” when woken up by her bird friends but will not tell anyone what that dream was because she would jinx it. When invited to the ball, she never mentions her intent to meet the Prince, and when she has reigned herself to the fact that she can’t go,  she guesses that it might be boring anyway.

To top everything off, she spends a wonderful night dancing with the Prince, and even sings a duet about love. The problem is, she does not know who he is. She even talks about how she adored the man she spent the night with but is disappointed he was not the Prince! She then convinces herself that maybe the he isn’t all that and she gets back to her life. Let me tell you though, when she finds out she had been dancing with the Prince, you can almost see that coin flash across her eyes. I understand, in a perfect world, Cinderella would have coin from a dressmaking business but her circumstances do not allow it. I say, you do you Cinderella, at least we know you like the man.

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I’m not sure I put Cinderella in a good light here but all I’m saying is that she’s no pushover.

The F Word: Snow White

Are Disney Princesses really that irredeemable? As a child did I even notice all the bad things adults are now saying they stand for?  

There will always be room at the table for more diverse stories about women and girls but I see some value in the stories already told.

Snow White as a character is one that is easy to write off because her beauty is the main crux on which the entire plot centres itself on. If we look beyond that we can see some other traits. Snow White is kind to all she meets, animal and human alike. Her naivety does ultimately lead to her (temporary) death, which is a lesson in being too trusting. However, because she did take time to foster friendships she had a team to back her up when she did get into trouble. We all need a support network at times.

When she was without support, she ran by herself through a big dark forest, she may have screamed all the way through it, but she kept on going. It is a testament to her resilience that when she gets to the other side she apologises to the woodland creatures for frightening them, telling them she has had a rough day and that she will “get along somehow.” Snow White then consults with her woodland friends as to how she can make herself feel better. This arguably kills the interpretation that she does not want to bother anyone with her troubles.

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A cutie

It is true that Snow White is sweet and gentle, but she can give as good as she gets. In her first meeting with Grumpy, she correctly guesses his name by folding her arms and speaking in a mocking tone. Snow White is also hardworking and collaborative. She offers to pay her keep by cooking and cleaning for the dwarves, as is her skillset (I know some would prefer if she was slogging it down in the mine with the dwarves but have you seen the pie she made? Art). To do this she enlists the help of her woodland friends to split the work. She also does not let the dwarves off so lightly and refuses to feed them until they display some basic hygiene. One of the dwarves, Doc, teaches his housemates how to wash properly so that Snow White can focus on her task for the evening. The dwarves also contribute by providing some entertainment after dinner.

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Art

Finally we need to discuss the biggest turn off in these traditional princess stories, the Prince. I won’t lie, he’s a weirdo and it’s a weird set-up for “ever after.” I like to think that it is not the first time they met, Snow White was just startled when he jumped over the wall and snaked up to sing in her ear. I mean why else would she run away but then calm down and be down for the dude? The prince in this case really is just a handy little way to close off the story. I think I can forgive Snow White for being in love, it is something many can relate to. Also, the prince didn’t even get to be explored outside of fawning over Snow White.  Can we get a meninist to tell us how useless Prince Charming is as a character?

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A weirdo

Tomb Raider Thoughts

The Tomb Raider film really sold something else in its pre-release marketing (really encompassed in this ridiculous Lucozade ad). They certainly made some…choices for this version of Lara.

It all begins with Lara is getting beat to a pulp by a female opponent in the ring while being supported by a female friend (an important point for later). Female here is important because any other speaking parts that involve women only happen twice more. At a later part a woman utters a few words while scolding her son for not asking Lara out (because remember she is a desired woman) and you also have a woman in the pawn shop who scolds her partner for flirting with Lara. Then you have Ana, if you’re a fan of the series you know the deal with her. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t take their cue from Rhianna Pratchett’s reboot iteration where Lara embarks on her expedition with a group, including her friend Sam.

I forgave them for leaving Lara alone with new character Lu Ren with whom she could bond with over their combined daddy issues (I will probably get into this later). Cool. Lara would probably have to navigate the island alone and solve the mystery of the island herself. I mean that is what happened in the new game and she had way more people with her to find and save at the same time. In the older games she is also a lone wolf. That’s not what Lara does though. She actually spends very little time alone in this film once she reaches Yamatai. For some reason the executive reason was made to feature the main antagonist way more than he should have been featured. The film should have been renamed Tomb Guide as she ends up spending a good chunk leading Vogel and his team to Himiko’s tomb.

Which I find odd because the decision was also seemingly made to not have Lara occupied as an archaeologist, just a food courier. In a chat with (spoiler) she also reveals that she never went to university. Her puzzle solving skills rely on the fact that her dad always had puzzle things around the house and the fact that she studied some of his notes before losing them. This brings me back to the “being beaten to a pulp in the beginning” point. The film of course went with the torture porn aspect that features heavily in the game reboot and Lara has her fair share of being impaled, pinned down and punched in the face. I just don’t understand why they would give her the tomb raiding skills in this origin story but not the fucking shit up skills. I know which of these was shown she was actively working on in the start, and in flashbacks (spoiler it was fighting and archery).

I was so frustrated because the few scenes that were ripped straight from the game and any action scenes were so good. Lara escaping the ship, trying to get to safety when she landed on an old rusty plane, using the parachute to get to safety are all examples of this. Although she definitely hit more branches using the parachute than I was allowed to in the game (rude). There definitely was not enough of her using her skills to survive. Instead we got Vogel and his bros and the huge fixation on Lara’s dad. After what felt like the 50th flashback of her dad saying he had to leave her I was over it. We get it. No dad. Maybe there was a mother once who knows she is mentioned once maybe. If only the dad thing was confined to the flashbacks too because yikes that was a hangup for the whole thing. I don’t think even Bruce Wayne is that obsessive about his parents.

There were nice nods to the Tomb Raider franchise (the best being the end scene) and the action when it was there was great. I just do not get why they spent so much time on Lara’s dad and Vogel. It is like they had all the tools to explain her interests in visiting Yamatai by, I don’t know, simply making her an archaeologist following in her father’s footsteps. I just do not understand the fixation on making Lara broken. I understood her when I was doing something as redundant as locking her butler in the fridge so why do I need a tragic backstory (the only tragic thing being how drawn out it is) to justify why she does what she does?

Let Lara live.

Worth having a look at though all the same if you need something easy and fun. It could be way worse.

 

What 2017 Films I Watched

Turns out I went to the cinema twelve times in 2017 (thirteen if you count my second viewing of Star Wars), add to that one Netflix entry and you can definitely see that studios worked their marketing magic on me. I decided to dive into this list without refreshing my memory on any details to see what really made an impact on me. Details may be foggy!

Logan

Logan was gritty and violent in a way that you would never see in more commercial superhero blockbusters. Who knew seeing some blood could be so refreshing? Add to that a weakening Logan and you have a story with real stakes and real consequences (something severely lacking in other franchises). Adding to the weight, Logan has a lot of heart which comes mostly in the form of a formidable little girl (also with a adamantium skeleton) and an ageing Professor X. Definitely one for those with Avenger fatigue.

Get Out

This made my Top Film Picks For Halloween 2 list back in October and is easily one of my favourite films of all time. The plot drips out little details at you which all begin to connect as the story builds into the most satisfying crescendo. As loaded as the subject matter may be, the story artfully finds time to provide a little comedy. It is nice to have a breather sometimes. I am being vague on purpose here, it is best viewed with little to no knowledge of the twists and turns you will encounter (this trailer shows everything so maybe quit at the minute mark).

Beauty and the Beast

Despite being an avid Disney fan, I do not remember much about this one. Storywise, it is just same as what Disney gave us back in 1991, with a few new tunes added in. The only real impact anything had on me was the performance of Luke Evans as Gaston who commanded my attention whenever he was on screen. I feel uneasy about the Beauty and the Beast remake in general as I’m really not a fan of CG being presented as a shiny replacement for traditional animation. Saying all of that I still have my sights set on the Mulan remake (possibly because I won’t have to watch ugly CG cutlery sing and dance for two hours).

Alien: Covenant

Another one that I have little recollection of. I am not even sure if I saw it a second time at home or if I just watched it at home. All I know is that none of those people should be trusted to do any job because they are stupid. There was also…creepy Fassbender and a tin whistle or something?

Wonder Woman

Although on the more squeaky clean spectrum I mentioned above, Wonder Woman got away with it. I think this was achieved by giving the very real background of the horrors World War I and chemical warfare. There are many iconic things about Diana Prince’s first feature length (I don’t think I will ever be over that walk across No Man’s Land). The fighting scenes are great, the story is better than your average action film and you have a band of characters that you grow to care about and really root for. However, the big bad in Wonder Woman falls foul yet again to DC’s hard-on for giant CG gods and aliens which takes the film a little out of context.

Okja

Okja is a Netflix film about a big genetically modified pig. It is a great film for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, you will both finish the film as upset as each other but the meat eaters may be more likely to still reach for that BLT at the end to comfort eat. In all seriousness Okja is a unique little film that hammers home its message without being too preachy. It really hits you in the gut as you watch the main character desperately search for her best friend before Okja ends up on a plate.

Baby Driver

I went to this off the little information I had, music was used well and it was a heist movie. I suppose those things were true. What I really remember however is a romance film where the main character falls in love with what is basically his dead mother. Anyway I loved Jon Hamm in it, he needs to be in more things.

Dunkirk

I have never been too interested in traditional war film so luckily for me, Dunkirk was not a traditional war film. Seeing this in the cinema was incredible as sound was used to its full effect. I nearly came out of the cinema with PTSD. I will never forget the absolute horror of watching a group of young men scramble to the ground as a plane could be heard buzzing in the distance before suddenly shooting or bombing at them. All they could do was lie down and wait for their fate. Also, just when you thought the featured group of young men had caught a break it always got worse. Dunkirk is edge of your seat stuff (also quite depressing I am getting sad thinking about it).

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Finally a Peter Parker that is not thirty years old and in high school. Not much to say about this one other than it is lovely. Tom Holland is the Peter Parker I always wanted and I knew that from the second he popped up in Avengers 2. Intertwined with all the drama of your typical teen movie, Homecoming is a welcome addition to the current superhero discourse. It is youthful, funny and familiar. It has been a long time since a hero has been fighting crime on their local streets.

Wind River

I managed to see this as part of Odeon’s Screen Unseen which I would definitely take a chance on again. Admittedly, Wind River is not something I would willingly watch as it takes its inspiration from the thousands of sexual assaults of native women in the US. Adding to that is the fact that the two heroes in this tale are white, which I can’t properly make any real informed opinion about as I am white myself. Despite my reservations, I really enjoyed Wind River. Maybe “enjoy” is not the best word as I was sick to my stomach for 99% of it.  It is a solid mystery/thriller that I really did not notice the time going in. There is one scene in which a sexual assault takes place so do be warned if you decide to dive in.

Note: The filmaker got the film back from the Weinstein Company after Harvey was exposed and now all profits go to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center which intends to use the money to finance a database of crime statistics about Native American women. Source.

It

I had fun with It. Some who have not seen the film may think I am mad but it really was not the horror I expected it to be. It was whimsical, downright brutal at parts and had a very talented cast of kids. I found Pennywise to be the least scary thing about the whole thing, but I never have had much attachment to fantasy manifestations of fear in horror. Talk to me about the parents in the town or even the bullies and that is a whole other story.

Blade Runner 2049

Despite some dodgy “of the time” parts in the original Blade Runner, I was so excited for this. The question is, will we we out of the eighties in the year 2049? The answer would apparently be no. Granted I fell asleep a few times but some things in Blade Runner 2049 really did not sit well with me. Ryan Gosling was a new “more obedient model” just like the replicant lady from Tyrell Corp but yet she never got to explore her humanity (like Gosling) beyond her crying at things creepy Leto did. Joi was also literally there to tell Gosling to live his dreams and then hires the other lady with the hat to have a weird threesome. Then there was that other woman locked in a room. All I remember is how pretty it was and how they could have cut out most of the cast and still have had it make sense. Also would have helped with the running time. This could be a whole post in itself.

The sound was A+

Justice League

Just what I had expected

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Ignore the noise. Star Wars is fine. Remember those prequels everyone hates? I liked them, but I was a child when I saw them. There were plenty children at the screening for The Last Jedi and hearing them gasp and laugh throughout reminded me that I was just there to have a good time, cheesiness or not. I mean, have those overtly negative die-hard fans ever seen a Star Wars film? I will admit watching TLJ gave me whiplash due to the sheer amount of storylines happening at once but I also found issue with the tone. The worst offender being the scene where Rey interrogates a topless Kylo Ren about a very serious subject matter but halfway through suddenly requests he put some clothes on before continuing all seriously. That milk scene was odd too but it was the three too long shot of Rey’s face at the end of it that ruined it for me. If anything, go for the fight scenes which are the most incredible. There is some good comedy in there too, even if some of it is a bit slapstick.

So You Have to Buy a Games Console

Even though I have long left the hell that is retail (specifically toys) for greener pastures, I will never forget the lessons I have learned regarding shopping for gifts. Few of which are more awkward than games consoles and/or games, especially if you have no prior experience with them. Below I have compiled the main things that people didn’t even know (or think) they had to consider before buying one. Sometimes this information confused people more but I am throwing it out there in the hopes that it might help someone on the way to a relatively stress free Christmas.

Check the shop’s return policy

Many shops have return policies that differ from their standard return policy when it comes to games consoles. Make sure to clarify your position if not told by the staff member before buying. In my own personal experience on both sides of the retail counter, more often than not a console which is having issues will not be taken back by the retailer. You will be advised to contact the manufacturer of the console should any issues arise.

I myself have had an issue with a console but the shop took it back on the condition I had proof that I had logged the problem with the manufacturer first. However, this can differ depending on the shop and manufacturer you are dealing with. It is preferable for a manufacturer to try to fix problems directly rather than have a shop just hand out another unit for free.

Keep your receipts

This goes for anything with and electronic component really (I have seen countless remote control cars back to the shop in my retail days). A receipt might be the difference between having to pay the manufacturer for a replacement or a repair if it has a technical fault. Your “get out of paying for a technical fault card” will not last forever though so make sure you are aware of the length of the manufacturer’s guarantee and what it covers. Also, please don’t show up to the shop, 3DS in hand, ranting and raving at the sales assistant only to reveal that you took the battery out of it to try to fix it. That is definitely not covered.

Internet

It is an unfortunate fact of life that some large consoles today rely on a decent internet connection. Some are more dependant than others. So be mindful of this when enquiring about which console to buy. You can always check your internet speed with your broadband provider. This still applies if the person you are gifting the console to will not be playing online. Which brings me to my next point.

Set it up

Where possible try to set up your console as best as you can before Christmas day. Most consoles need to update their software every so often (although it can feel like much more often than that) and will probably be looking to be patched the day you switch them on. More importantly though, many packaged bundles do not come with a physical game, only a download code, so after you wait for your console to update you may be sitting around on Christmas day waiting for a 50GB game to download and install (a huge inconvenience if you have a bad broadband connection). If you think you can solve that problem with a physical disc, think again. Most consoles require a game to be partially installed on the hard drive before they can be played.

Of course it is vitally important that you do this in case you encounter any problems with your console, especially if you have younger kids. Nothing ruins Christmas day like a faulty present and the prospect of having to look for a replacement the second the shops and customer care offices open back up.

If you are a parent it is also a chance to become familiar with the console yourself. There are a plethora of parental settings to explore from timers to age restrictions. I have had a few things thrown at me by parents who decided it wasn’t their job to know what exactly they had given their child. Not good when you have something that’s attached to the internet.

Anyway, you might want to set up a sneaky Netflix account for yourself because consoles aren’t just for games anymore.

Games

Maybe you’re not committing a couple of hundred of your earnings to an entire console and have opted to simply buy a game. Well there is no use promising little Bobby a game featuring his favourite Italian plumber if all little Bobby has is a Playstation. Unfortunately not all games are available for all consoles.

Adding to this, Playstation 3 games do not work on a Playstation 4 and vice versa. Some Xbox 360 games work on an Xbox One but Xbox One games do not work on an Xbox 360. 3DS games work on the 2DS but do not work on a DS or a DSi…there is a lot of instances where you can be tripped up. There is also no going back if a game is opened and it is discovered far too late that it will not work in a particular console. I wasn’t even allowed to take back sealed games with a receipt in the shop I worked for, so I really emphasised this to anyone buying a game.

Double, triple, quadruple check you know what you are buying for. If you intend to buy a game for somebody make sure that you know exactly what console they have, even as much as taking a picture of the console night help a staff member figure out what you are looking for.

Know what you are buying

I once had a granny come in with Grand Theft Auto in her hand, telling me how great her grandson was and how he really wanted it for Christmas. However, dear old granny let slip that her grandson was only seven years old. The look on her face when I had to explain that the game in her hand was over 18s. If I had not caught that, her grandson could have very well received GTA and it also could have very well flown under his parents’ radar.

Now I am making no presumptions here, maybe his parents would have been cool with it. I did once have a six year old come in with his dad for a Call of Duty game which they were going to play together online as they had with COD before. That was the dad’s decision. A different woman had also asked about GTA for her thirteen year old son and she said she didn’t mind the violence but would pass because of “sex stuff”, her words, not mine.

So just double check with whoever you are buying the game from to see if it would be suitable. It also helps that an age rating is written on the box, but remember an age rating of 3 does not mean it is just for 3 year olds. It is for 3 years to however old you want. It may sound self explanatory but I have had countless arguments with people about this.

Be wary of a new trend in games where they may subtly harass you into buying in-game items with real money (my dad still hasn’t recovered from when my brother bought €200 worth of things on FIFA). It has gotten so insidious that governments are debating as to whether to consider certain games as containing a form of gambling. The company EA is in the spotlight right now because of what they have pulled with Star Wars Battlefront and are planning to pull with UFC 3. You can read about it here. Just be sure to pull your card details off the console after you buy something on it or just opt to buy online store vouchers.

It may sound like a lot to take on (before you get into things like what storage you should get etc.), but the beauty of modern technology is that when it works, it works. Consoles pretty much take care of themselves, setting up much like your own phone would. However, don’t use this as an excuse to tune out of conversations surrounding it, especially if you are buying for younger kids. There is a whole world attached to that little box sitting in your living room.

 

So I saw Justice League Last Night…

…and I don’t know. It’s a pretty inconsequential piece of cinema, which is fine. I mean Marvel have been getting away with it for years. They can probably get away with it partly because they’ve never given us a Nolan trilogy moment. Also I feel like the interconnecting universe thing stifles the creators’ abilities to do something really interesting (even though DC never officially declared that they were running a DCEU). Add that to that the fact that they went straight in with the space stuff which has meant a shift back to fighting regular old crime on the street would be a very strange transition.

The style applied to Batman in his opening threw me right back to Burton’s version. That could of course be owed to the Elfman soundtrack in which he managed to sneak in that good old arpeggiated Batman theme. Add to that a bumbling criminal and some choice Burtonesque lighting and it sure was a throwback to 1989. Later on in the film you are treated to those dreamy Man of Steel shots of corn fields and a hazy sky.  This of course is forgotten about later on in favour of that too familiar final CGI battle. Out of all other heroes, Aquaman was the only other to have a strong visual context, but only above ground. Altlantis got zero look in. Cyborg had the lab and the computer-filled small family apartment while with the Flash we were given the prison and another computer-filled living space. Wonder Woman was just hanging out in London. It all made for something quite disjointed.

We need to talk about Henry Cavill’s face. If you had no idea until now that they had to digitally remove his moustache for the film (you are welcome) please let me know if his face made you as uneasy as it made me knowing that it had been. That first scene of him being filmed by the kids on the phone was straight up weird. He didn’t look real. I was really distracted sitting there watching Superman’s puffy CGI upper lip any time he was on screen. I kept trying to imagine him actually standing there with a moustache. Adding to that was what I found to be a really wooden performance but maybe I’ve forgotten how Cavill’s Superman normally is. It was all very surreal.

This Justice League film also reminded me how lucky we were to get a solid standalone for Wonder Woman. Diana was thrown under the bus a little bit. Every so often we were reminded that she was indeed not one of the boys. You had Alfred quip about Bruce Wayne wanting to call her because he was a attracted to her, you had Barry Allen (The Flash) swooning all over her but not like he swooned over Batman and you also had Arthur Curry (Aquaman) mention how gorgeous she was but it was funny guys because Diana had the lasso of truth around him. Also that gag of Barry falling on top of her fell so flat that the whole cinema audience were silent. I do wonder where that fell in the shoots and re-shoots. Does anyone else remember seeing her knickers so much either? However, Wonder Woman fought hard and gave as good as she got, she certainly outshone Batman who floundered around a bit only to call on his tech and have it co-opted by Cyborg.

The Flash seems to be a big talking point as some people found him a little irritable. I was personally okay with him. I did find that some of his best moments happened when he wasn’t talking because the “oh my god I don’t know how to talk to people like a normal person” thing can wear thin sometimes. I do think the effort Ezra Miller put into Barry Allen got derailed a little because the last memory you will have of him is running through the streets really oddly. It is a sight to behold. In terms of the other new additions, I thought Cyborg translated really well but as I said above he really made Batman look useless. I honestly could have done with or without Aquaman. It makes sense why he is there based on the plot but he is not fleshed out as much as the others. There is a brief encounter with Mera under the sea but I could not understand half of what was being said. Something about a dead mother.

Speaking of mothers, these DC films have a real problem. The worst instance will always been the Martha revelation from BvS but my gosh does Justice League still run with it. For once, Bruce Wayne makes no mention of his dead parents but that means nothing when we’re given a crash course of dead mother back stories from all three new heroes. It’s a wonder anyone gets out of bed to do anything without having the reasoning that their mother is dead. Fair enough the comic origins of Aquaman and the Flash set that in stone but I did a little digging and guess what? Cyborg has both parents. Both scientists. Then DC are going to further insult me with their dead mother obsession and run with their Mother Box lore. They should have just called them Martha Boxes. But Emer, Superman has a dead daddy and a Martha you say. Well I say, do you recall the BvS Martha thing I mentioned above? Bruce and Clark weren’t reminiscing about how both their dads smoked cigars or something.

I can’t tell you much about the final big battle because I was falling asleep. Nothing to do with the film, I am just at the mercy of having to commute to work during the week which leaves me drained. I was overtly cynical about it all anyway because I couldn’t understand why it took all of Atlantis, Themyscira, the Green Lanterns and a load of humans to defeat Steppenwolf before and then the Justice League rock up and do it easily. Did he have the full power of the Mother Box thing back in the day? That bit of information must have been lost on me. He did not have it when he gatecrashed Themyscira though…okay I am really just not that bothered even thinking about it because at the end of the day does anyone care?

Is there any need to rush to the cinema to see this? Nope. Is it worth throwing on at home some night you want something harmless to put on? Sure. Justice League is no masterpiece and it clearly never set out to be one (well I hope not because that is some delusion). I say this all the time but I need companies to scale the stories down a bit, make them a bit more nuanced and make the audience feel like there is a chance the heroes might actually fail. Give me things like Logan or like Kick-Ass (not the second one that was terrible) because if you’re telling me the villain is going to destroy the whole planet, I know the villain is not going to destroy the whole planet. It has all gotten far too predictable and although that is a comfort for many, it’s feels like a waste of talent to me.

Top Film Picks For Halloween 2

As explained in my list last year, very few “traditional” horror films tend to impress me. If you are like me and find the big horror franchises a bit lackluster, hopefully you will enjoy one of the  selections below. If not, perhaps last year’s offerings might be more appealing.

Creep (2014)

Independent found footage film Creep really got under my skin when I watched it. It follows a videographer Aaron (Patrick Brice) who answers the Craigslist ad of Josef (Mark Duplass) who wishes to record his day to day life. The two characters spend all their time together isolated up in a cabin in the mountains and it is all quite innocent. However, every so often Josef will do or say something so odd that will make you feel something that I can only describe through that meme of Chrissy Teigen’s face. With Creep 2 on the way soon it is definitely a film worth checking out.

Get Out (2017)

I was always very interested in seeing Get Out as it had an interesting premise to build on. It begins with photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) gearing up to meet his girlfriend’s parents. He brings up the fact that Rose (his girlfriend) never told her white, suburban family that he is black. Rose (Allison Williams) eventually reassures him that  “My dad totally would have voted for Obama for a third term if he could have.” It is little things like that which are dotted around the script of the film that all click into place once the horror is revealed. Honourable mention goes to Chris’ best friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) for providing some much needed comedic relief  when the film is at its tensest.  The trailer below shows a lot of the film so I would recommend avoiding it or at least watching it until the 1.30 mark.

What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

If you have always craved a mockumentary about vampires from New Zealand then you are in luck. Created by and starring man of the moment Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement (you may know him from Flight of the Conchords), What We Do In The Shadows documents the night to night lives of Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr. You watch as the  centuries old vampires navigate their way through 21st century life, even getting the addition of a 21st century vampire to their flat. The film documents everything from the vampires’ views on doing the dishes, their feud with the local Wellington werewolves and also their foray into modern technology. It is one of those comedy films that is endlessly quotable and you can sense that all actors involved genuinely had a great time making it.

I Love Cuphead

Very seldom does a game catch my attention like Cuphead did when it graced our live-streams back at E3 IN 2015. Cuphead, a colourful homage to 1930s cartoons, stood out among grittier titles like Gears of War and Dark Souls. I wouldn’t normally jump at the chance to play a “run and gun” style game (I’m still traumatised from getting the high score in Bully’s side-scroller Nut Shots) but I was totally drawn in by the 30 second clip. The fact that the release date ended up being my birthday further cemented my choice to buy it on day one.

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The in-game map where you defeat bosses or run and gun sections to progress. There’s also a shop and a few friendly faces to talk to.

Cuphead has been compared to notoriously butt-kicking Dark Souls due to its difficulty. Other than the obvious glaring differences you could make an argument for it. If you die during a level, you have to restart the section, enemies and all, just like Dark Souls. You also die very frequently. Before you scream “UNETHICAL GAMES JOURNALISM” I did make it through the tutorial (I have video proof). However, that doesn’t mean that I have not died a million times (I have video proof). The beauty of Cuphead is that dying is how you learn. Again, just like Dark Souls.

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I died on purpose for this screenshot, don’t take my games from me

After the whole Dan Takahashi drama people have become snobby about the game and its difficulty, claiming it as some litmus test for a true gamer. Cuphead does not care if you are an experienced gamer or not. When you face one of the many bosses or run and gun levels for the first time you will not know your arse from your elbow. You won’t know if a certain enemy can be shot and killed, you won’t know if it’s better to hold off on shooting and concentrate on dodging, you won’t know if the platform you’re about to jump on will burst into flames. The list of obstacles is endless. Adding to this is the option to buy guns and special powers from coins collected in the world. Changing these around can really help with your game-plan. Still though, you won’t know if it will help until you try, and fail, and try again.

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You can change your load-out at any time when in the map

Cuphead gives you the option of local co-op which is a thing I sorely miss in today’s online obsessed world. Luckily for me, I have an on demand player 2 in the form of my little brother (like I was for my older sister). When I found myself at the mercy of a giant carrot, I turned off the game, nipped into town, came home and gifted a second controller to him. It took us a little while to get used to the addition of a player two but soon we had defeated the carrot and also cackling blimp lady Hilda Berg who he had been having trouble with when playing solo.

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Me in sadder times before I got my player 2

Each boss we have encountered has been designed so well that we look forward to seeing their multiple transformations throughout fights. Often my brother and I are shouting “WHAT?” at each other in awe and confusion. I think the greatest feat of Cuphead so far has been how captivating it is. No matter how many times we have failed we have never once felt anger or frustration. We have found ourselves almost instantly pressing retry every time and we go back in, guns blazing, probably a little wiser than the last attempt but probably not wise enough just yet.

Watch my true first few minutes with Cuphead below if you dare. I hope the Xbox One police don’t come after me for this abysmal display.

Right now Cuphead is €19.99 and is available on Xbox One and PC.

Tekken 7 vs Injustice 2

Despite only being born in 1992, I have very fond memories of playing the first few Tekken releases with my older sister and my cousin. The main draw for us was unlocking the insane ending stories that the Tekken developers always cooked up. I have stayed loyal to Tekken ever since then (there’s some Soul Calibur thrown in there over the years too). Tekken for me peaked at the third installment. However, I do remember being in awe of the graphics in Tekken 4 once it had arrived on PlayStation 2 and I definitely enjoyed Tekken 5 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2. It was only with Tekken 6 that I found my interest in the series waning a bit as the traditional modes began to change format. I know that at some point things have to switch up a bit but the new additions just did not sit well with me.

Having some hope left, I was excited for the latest Tekken release and I bought it on day one. The problem came when I had seen so much hype for Injustice 2…which I also bought. I don’t think I touched Tekken for a good month and a half after that. Does that mean that Tekken 7 is bad? Not necessarily. You just have to be in a very particular head-space to enjoy it.

Tekken:

First of all there is no Anna Williams in Tekken 7 which is a crime.  Second of all…Tekken 7 is for you if you are a gamer that loves to grind. Tekken, with the progression of online gaming and the allure of eSports has become serious business. Gone are the days when I would bash buttons next to my sister on a Mortal Kombat arcade machine in a local fast food restaurant. I was actually extremely nervous before I entered the world of Tekken online (who knows why my body decided to do that). I saw multiple players with one hundred wins on their belts. I was like “cool” then got demolished. I did win once when I found someone as hopeless as myself. It was great when I lost after that and my win counter went down to zero. I then realised that what I saw were one hundred win streaks. I honestly wonder if these people have full time jobs because how does that happen? Special shoutout to the player who decided I was so useless they just left their character lying on the ground for a bit. That was rude.

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Me when I won

The closest you get to the older “ending movie” structure in 7 is a single fight as each character which ends with a short clip of them talking to their defeated opponent in the context of that particular fight. Still, I miss the hijinks between Law and Paul. The confined story in Tekken 7 is quite challenging as each fight seems to have something extra you have to keep on top of, e.g. dodging a soldier shooting at you at certain intervals, quick time events or even multiple enemies. It is a very sneaky way of getting you to grips with the mechanics of the game without you having to slog through a tutorial. They also added in something called “Story Assist” which you access by holding down RB on Xbox One to bring up a list of hotkeys for combos that would otherwise take multiple button presses. It is a great help in the story mode but I always find my hand cramping very quickly despite doing apparently less work. I think the biggest help I ever had was playing as Lars who had his own gun, but then I had no need to go hand to hand with anyone.

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Story mode has its entertaining moments

Tekken 7 customisation leaves a lot to be desired. Which is odd considering the focus on online gameplay. You get some items specific to each character and then really random bits like tank tops and deer masks for everyone. Some of these have to be paid for with in game money. However, more things can be unlocked through Treasure Mode and Arcade Mode which again, you will have to grind for. I know many people aren’t that interested in playing dress up so it really is not a deal breaker. Still, it would be nice to have the same level of freedom that Soul Calibur customisation has allowed in some of its installments. Saying that, if you’re looking for a really cute health bar and player card panel, Tekken 7 has you covered. My personal favourite is the neon pumpkin one. Very seasonal.

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Injustice 2:

Injustice 2 definitely has a wider appeal. It has enough to keep both beginners and veterans entertained even before they become their best Injustice selves.

The very few times I chanced my arm and went online were very pleasant experiences. One person who demolished me for ages before I eventually beat them messaged me to say they had fun! Of course I’m nowhere near as good as a lot of online players but the nature of Injustice is that things can turn around at any second. This is due to the two health bars you have, the second never draining until the first is completely gone. So if you use a strong move while your opponent is still on their first bar, you won’t be able to affect their second. In turn your meter you built up for special moves will be depleted and your opponent can use what they have in theirs in a “clash” which you would definitely lose and they would gain health back. Even the best players have to be careful of this!

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Just gals being pals

The story of Injustice basically revolves around Superman being a dick and Batman being a good Batdad to everyone except his own son. It’s great. You get no choice as to who you play as throughout however some sections allow you to choose between two fighters. If the completionist in you gets itchy about this, you can return to chapters to complete them as the second character. If you want to view the alternate ending to your initial choice, you will have to complete 75 out of the 76 available fights. If my counting is correct, around 31 of those involve single fighters so there is not awful lot of grinding to do on top of one playthrough. I found this a good way to decide who I liked playing as without any experience other than the tutorial. Turns out I’m a dab hand at Harley Quinn and Black Canary.

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I picked Superman in the end first because even though he’s stupid (spoiler) I can use him better

Customisation is very fun. You can earn what are called “Mother Boxes” which you get in various ways and open them to get gear. You can take part in timed Multiverse events (which I love) and earn items that way too. Each item carries with it a level and stats that affect a fighter’s strength, ability, defense and health. Of course, the character has to be the correct level to equip a piece. If there is a better bit of gear that you find ugly you can use some of the resources you earn to put the stats on something you prefer. The Multiverse events come in a variety of difficulties and may have certain stage elements (random earthquakes etc.) and customisation offers you a chance to change up your tactics through costume if you’re finding a particular event tricky.

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There is a lot more to Injustice than Tekken which has upped the playabilty for me personally. Tekken is what it is and I am just a filthy casual. Until I muster up the courage to delve back into the Tekken mess I will be happy deciding if Catwoman looks better in purple or black and punching Green Lantern in the face (he’s very annoying).

Bonus burn: