Thursday, 14 August 2014

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

First, really love this film. It's rare that I can sit and watch a film and then when asked the question, how it could be improved, be left with no response. The balance of humour and action in the film, I think, is perfect.The characters of the heroes are fantastic and they played off each other really well, and the conflict between them in the early part of film leads to some really humourous scenes, which still set me laughing even now when I think of them.

If I absolutely had to make a criticism of the film, it would be that the personalities of the bad guys/ antagonists feel extremely weak in comparison to the heroes. They really do act and feel just like your average comic book villains. It would have been nice if the richness of the characters of the protagonists could have been mirrored a bit with the villains, but it in no way ruined the film for me.

The overall story and plot is good, and strong enough to hold together the various humour and action scenes throughout the film. Yes, it is a little predicable but again, I don't think that really matters given the subject matter and the genre. There were enough surprises to more than keep my interest, mainly the thought of what wacky and crazy thing the team would get up to next. I particularly like the bit with the battery and the artificial leg.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this film and it has become one of my favourites. I will certainly be getting it when it comes out in store, a while away yet, I know. If you enjoy the Marvel universe then this film is a must and even if you don't, I would suggest you give it try anyway. It's one of those rare films where everything seems to have come together in just the right order and quantities, which has created something really special. I look forward to seeing if this will be matched in the sequel.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Wildstar End Game Review

Yeah, I know what the first question on most people's mind will be, what end game? And I partly agree. End game in Wildstar, other than mindless farming dailies, is not easily accessible to any who does not have a good guild. The dungeons are generally too difficult to PUG. Adventures are doable but getting a gold may be a challenge without Vent or Teamspeak.

Let's hold off mentioning the attunement process for, a while; yes I know you want to swear about it. I personally, enjoyed leveling through the game. I do not get all of these whiners on the forums complaining of torrents of bugs preventing them from leveling. I'm a pretty serious completionist, and I only came across two bugs while leveling 1 to 50, only one of which was in a main quest chain and when I went back the following day the quest was un-bugged.

I think, overall, the quests and storyline up to 35 meandered a bit and didn't have a clear goal, which sapped my motivation, as it did feel a bit like working through my in tray at work, only not getting paid for it. This is corrected at 35 with the main questline kicking off and the rest of the leveling process  held my attention.

Anyway, back to end game. I am really enjoying doing the adventures with my guild. Nerfing the rewards was annoying, as on our  last nightly run we got three golds and not a single epic, which needs looking at when gold used to get three guaranteed epics. At least give two guaranteed and one for silver and just a chance of one for bronze. But I want my epics! As for vet dungeons, I've only tried one once and my connection was epicly bad so while we reached the final boss, we were unable to kill him. But I have no issues with the difficulty of the dungeons. Actually, I find it refreshing.

Now, attunement. I am certainly not a fan and would like to know when days of mindless rep grinding became hardcore? I wouldn't mind the attunement process if everything you did counted towards the whole attunement list. Before I had completed the rep grind, I had gained golds in all the advertures multiple times but I still need to do it again to advance, which is annoying. The only other thing I have to say about attunement is, sort it out! I'm not doing that multiple times for each alt, forget it. End of rant.

3 months in, I am still enjoying the game, but I do think that new endgame content is needed that aren't just lv50 replicas of the starting faction zones. Lets have more original areas please, or more adventures and dungeons. If you're going to make me grind for attunement at least make it less repetitive.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Wildstar, Veteran Adventure Time!

I have to confess that in the course of leveling my first level 50, I had not set foot in any adventures or dungeons. For those who don't know what adventures, in Wildstar, are they are instanced scenarios which you play through in a team of five, not massively unlike dungeons, really, only easier.  I didn't avoid these through any thought that they wouldn't be very good or not much fun, as I have actually been wanting to give them a try, but because of a few reasons. 

One, questing is a faster way of gaining experience and therefore leveling up. 

Two, repair bills are reputed to be high and the loot gained from the instance is unlikely to cover it.

Three, with prior knowledge of just how difficult PUGs can be in current MMOs, with groups breaking up, people arguing, people not listening to the tactics. I didn't want to go through the hassle of doing any PUGing in a game that, can be, as challenging as Wildstar is. The preciseness needed in boss fights and even sometimes just random in mobs, I could see would make this a challenge for PUGs. I did not want to queue for an hour only for the group to break up in the first ten minutes or to end up in the middle of a shouting match as one member yells "Noob" at another. 

Anyway, I elected to make the decision to save adventures/ dungeons until I hit level 50 and until I could do them as a guild group. That day finally came on Friday, and it was really quite enjoyable. There were a few issues, as I had never done even the non veteran versions and it seems my mentioning this at the start was not noticed by the group, as they didn't bother to explain the tactics, but I managed to keep up by just following along. We did three of the four adventures and gained two golds and one silver. Yes, the silver was my fault. But still not a bad result for someone who had never done adventures before. I died about three or four times in total, which wasn't a bad result across the three adventures. 

I confess that starting with War of the Wilds which feels very battlegroundy even though it is PvE. I wasn't immediately sold on the adventures but the other two were less tedious and more event/ scenario based and I did still enjoy all three. Although, War of the Wilds did feel a little aimless in places. 

The guys in my team were great and I really do thank them, as I have no doubt they, in part, did carry me as I was unaware of the tactics, although the general tactics of stay out of the red stuff, generally does me well. They were on teamspeak, so I followed their directions when given and I think, even if adventures are much easier than dungeons that we wouldn't have got the two golds if I hadn't been contributing at least a little. 

Anyway, it was enjoyable and I loved the experience. I encourage others to give it a try.    

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Wildstar Review 1 to 50

Hi all! I hit level 50 about a week and a half ago, now. I now feel qualified to venture into reviewing the game. Now I have been playing Exile side. I have played a little Dominion but only as far as the first Nexus zone, so my review really comes from an Exile viewpoint.

First, I really am enjoying the game. I had a fair few problems to start with, mainly due to bad internet and poor control system, my side not Wildstar side, I hasten to add. My control issues were mainly to do with my set up as I have my computer hooked up to my TV, this means I sit on my beanbag couch with my keyboard on my lap and my mouse on a box. Wildstar was not forgiving of this setup, so I soon learnt to change to controller input which made things a lot easier.

The storyline is really strong in the game for the first 15 or so levels. However, I found that between 15 and 35 the story arc felt pretty weak and found myself feeling more like a general dog's body running around doing everything npcs ordered for little reason. This made the middle section of the game feel quite slow moving, for me. However, it is by no means a bad game, even at this point. It just didn't feel as absorbing or engaging as I feel it could.

At level 35 the game picks up again and, for me, 35 to 50 was the high life. The questing was engaging and the combat system, while occasionally punishing, was not too hard or too easy but about right for later game. I found the Drusea quest arch particularly enjoyable and actually started looking forward to getting new quests as I leveled. I do think it would be good to introduce a few if these type of quests at the middle levels as it might cure the storyline drought and help keep players engaged.

But, overall, I have had fun and will continue to play. I'm currently leveling an alt. I haven't currently devoted enough time to dungeons or end game, so I will comment on those separately. But I think this is an enjoyable game an if you like MMOs then it's well worth playing. I'm sure this game will grow and blossom and I will be enjoying the journey.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Assassins Creed Unity - Exciting

I have been watching the trailers released at E3 and I'm really quite excited about the new Assassins Creed game coming out later this year.

I have to confess that I boycotted the last one - Black Flag - completely. Assassins Creed 3 was, to be frank, a disaster and when they announced the next one would include pirates my respect for the franchise vanished through the floor. It was clearly an attempt to garner mass appeal after the disaster of 3 and I was not wasting money on that. Perhaps, I'll pick it up cheap at one point, but I was not going to be queuing for it on release.

Anyway, back to Unity. It looks, at first glimpse, to be a return to form for the franchise. Emphasis is being placed back onto stealth with the combat being made harder. One of the main issues with 3, in my opinion, is that combat was so easy that gameplay generally came down to hacking and slashing through dozens of enemies rather than sneaking around or using your assassin tricks. The free running element, also broken in 3, is reported to have been fixed, but I have yet to see actual evidence of this, so I'll reserve my comments here for a later date.

With so little information, I can't really comment on the new protagonist, as yet, Arno. Connor's issue in 3 was an almost complete lack of personality, and I can't really judge on Arno's personality from a profile but the setting of the French revolution is promising. In 3 the rather boring and low height architecture of America didn't really lend itself well to an Assassin's Creed game and stifled the free running element. In Unity it looks like a return to majestic cities of the type of Rome and Florence in 2 and brotherhood, with much more character and opportunity for up high action.

Overall, I'm quite excited with this title, but i'm still holding on to a little caution. It's too early to label this a success and the proof will be in the playing, but I'm optimistic that I may well get back one of my favourite game series that I had lost faith in. Here's hoping.

Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Time for another review. I watched this film yesterday. It is sort of a Sci-fi action version of Run Lola Run, with the end goal, instead of making a certain amount of money, of killing an alien, queen bee type entity, to end an invasion.

I have to admit that for the first twenty or minutes, I sat there thinking, what have I let myself in for, in watching the film. I wasn't that impressed, but it does improve after the first twenty minutes of repeated scenes. Yes I know they were emphasising the fact the day was repeating but I got that after the first time, there was no need to repeat the same scene about four times.

Saying that, the tactical implications of living the same day over and over again were well explored and there was a decently established plot to the story, more than enough to hold it together. I'm not convinced that the mental implications of living the day over and over and witnessing hundreds of deaths each time is explored properly, or even at all really.

The only problem I really have is with the ending which I can really explain without revealing spoilers but, in my opinion, it doesn't work with the rules previously set out in the film. However, this film is well worth a watch and after the first twenty or so minutes are out of the way I found myself enjoying it.

I still think that the best example of a day repeating scenario is presented in Stargate episode "Window of Opportunity". Which, in my opinion is just genius and explored in a more well rounded manner the implications of reliving the day over and over.

Anyway, good film, worth a watch, but does not make it into my all time favourites.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review: X-men Days of Future Past

First, I really enjoyed this film. If you haven't seen it then go see it. Anyone who enjoyed X-men First Class or the first two X-men films will love this one. I will be very careful not to drop in any spoilers, so don't worry if you haven't seen it yet.

The film is set in two periods, present and the 1970s. In the present, mutants are on the verge of being wiped out and Logan/ Wolverine is sent back into 1970s, via a mind transfer process. For anyone who remembers the first trilogy, this film has been done to reset the timeline and effectively wipe out the third film which has been regarded by fans as a complete disaster. While the function for this film is the back peddling of a film company after damaging the franchise it doesn't in anyway damage the film created. The story line feels plausible and not forced to conform to it's purpose.

The younger characters, introduced in First Class, play the major roles in this film with their present versions more as cameos. However, there are some very good fight scenes in present line which introduces new mutants which I would love to see in later X-men films. I particularly like the one with the portal powers, which made for some very fluid and engaging fight scenes. The characters of the younger Charles, Magneto and Mystique have really been expanded in this film. A much deeper insight is given into their emotional/ mental struggles and the events which lead to them into becoming the characters of the first trilogy. There are also brief glimpses of other first trilogy characters such as Toad to watch out for.

At a time when action films are becoming all action and no plot, I found this film very refreshing. There are plenty of action scenes and yet not so many that the plot feels drowned out by them. The pacing of the film is kept up without any loss of meaning or direction in the film's plot. This is a wonderfully balanced film which does it's purpose of wiping out the timeline of the third movie without the feeling of that being its only purpose of existence. I will definitely be getting this one on Blu-ray when it comes out.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Okay, That was stupid

Somehow, I've managed to accidentally sell two pieces of the highwayman's costume that I received with my pre-order. At least I assume that's what happened. I can only assume that during one of my bag clearing exercises, where I just sell off all white and grey stuff that I must have sold the two costume pieces as well.

Yes, true, it is ultimately my own fault for not being more careful or putting them in the bank, but I do still wonder why Carbine don't add a warning to things like rare costume pieces when you try to sell them. I tried to get them back by re opening the item from the gift box but it seems I can't do that.

Sigh, that's ticket two raised. Hopefully, I'll get a non generic response to this one, unlike the last one where their response was more than a little useless and it was clear the person sending it hadn't even bothered to read the comment on the ticket. But it's not like Blizzard don't do the same thing. In fact, the one time I had to contact a mod on WoW, think it was Cataclysm, a whole quest chain had bugged for me and it took a couple of days for it be fixed. Luckily I had plenty of other characters to play while I waited. I haven't come across any major bugs like that in Wildstar, even in the open beta, so serious respect to them for that. Anyway, I'll let you know what happens.

Guild Meet Up

Inevitable Betrayal had their first guild meet up on Monday evening, in the centre of Thyad. It was lost of fun. There is currently a screenshot competition going for people capturing shot from the guild meet, so people were all doing random things and shooting off special effects. My favourite has to be the group that jumped on the automated moving platform. I don't have a picture of that but I will add a few which I have taken a little later, so check back this evening.

This guild seems like a good lot and reminds me of my guild on WoW, back in the day. They were a fun bunch, who realised that games were meant to be fun. We did dungeons and raids. Sometimes we succeeded, mostly we just ran up massive repair bills but we had a laugh, which, for me, is the point a game. I think that's my main issue with WoW now. Everyone, even in the normal dungeons takes the game so damn seriously. I really do not consider standing there while the group gang up on whoever is the tank or healer and throw childish and juvenile insults back and forth, fun. If I wanted to be involved in that I would have become a social club leader. Alright, rant over.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Wildstar Head Start

I decided to make a separate blog for my gaming posts so I didn't have to limit the number of post on this topic through fear of drowning out the writing posts. I spend a lot of time gaming and generally if something interesting has happened in a day it is usually online.

I started playing Wildstar during the open beta so I already knew what to expect on logging in. That's after the one hour of hitting the login button continuously as the authentication server kept timing out. Yes, I know it wasn't Carbine's fault and to be honest I was that bothered as I used it after playing a number of WoW expansions on launch day. I did get annoyed when I starting getting through the password and then stuck on the authenticator stage. It really annoyed me know people without authenticators were getting in while I was stuck on the login waiting for the miracle of two server windows in a row to get through.

I eventually tried to log in on the website to remove my authenticator temporarily only to not to be able to log in. That made me angry and at that point I did sent Carbine an angry ticket.

However, once I got in, I created three characters, two of them only to save the names, and started playing the warrior. I had played most of the classes during Beta but Warrior I hadn't tried yet. They're a little more clunky than the stalker, but that's to be expected, really. I only had an hour to play after the, one spent trying to log in, so I didn't manage to get far before having to head off to my workshop and the Finchley Literary Festival. My dad was up for the weekend so I had to wait until about midnight, when he'd gone to bed, before getting back on. Obviously, the optimization issues aside, I'm enjoying the game so far. I won't be giving up WoW completely but I always have space for one more MMO and I think I can have fun on it. I have a guild already "Inevitable Betrayal" which I joined between OS week and head start. I'll write more about that in my next post.