Black Mirror: Crocodile Review

**SPOILER ALERT!!! DO NOT WATCH IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN CROCODILE**

After an amazing season opener, it unfortunately seems that the season is getting worse and worse. Arkangel wasn’t bad per se, but when it’s compared to other Black Mirror episodes such as Shut Up and Dance and White Christmas, it’s apparent why many found it disappointing. Maybe it’s just because I went in to it with high expectations. It was one of my most anticipated episodes of this season. Going into Crocodile however, I didn’t exactly set the bar too high. I didn’t like the look of the episode from the get-go, and after watching it, I (if you hadn’t guessed already) had all my suspicions confirmed.

You’ve seen the episode already (unless you’re ignoring my spoiler warning in which case go back now!) so I’ll keep the plot summary brief. Mia is the main character, friends with a guy called Rob. When they’re teenagers, Rob runs over a cyclist while drunk driving and convinces Mia to help him dispose of the body and stay quiet. Fifteen years later, Rob wants to come clean but Mia, worried that she’ll get arrested too, kills him. Another protagonist, insurance investigator Shazia, investigates an accident that happened around the time of Rob’s murder using a memory probe device. This eventually leads to the two protagonists confronting each other forcing Mia to murder Shazia and her family to preserve her innocence. Despite her efforts, she’s caught and arrested in the end after the police use a memory probe on Shazia’s pet guinea pig.

Let me start with the good parts of this episode, because there are some good parts, and I don’t want this post to feel more rant than review. I’ll be frank, I don’t comment on an episode’s cinematography often. Hell, I barely ever notice it to begin with. But I just couldn’t ignore just how well-shot the entire episode is. “Picturesque” doesn’t even begin to describe it. The bleak, snowy environments of Iceland that are showcased throughout the episode fit perfectly with the isolated, cold and dark tone making scenes incredibly atmospheric. This episode sucked me into its world; a crappy, stupid and inconsistent world, but I’m not sure whether that makes the feat even more impressive.

As well as that, the actors for this episode did a great job of portraying their characters. Black Mirror usually has talented actors anyway, but that doesn’t make it any less commendable. I have to give respect to the actors for making their boring characters feel much more alive and interesting than they were written. Mia isn’t exactly the most relatable character, but she still has some inherently human moments and Andrea Riseborough does a great job at striking the balance between emotionless robot and shellshocked human. Kiran Sonia Sawar also plays Shazia with the perkiness and optimism of your typical heroic protagonist but still manages to portray her perfectly during the darker scenes. Now, let’s get into why exactly I disliked this episode…

The biggest problem with this Black Mirror episode is that it’s just so… not Black Mirror. For a start, the technology we saw in this episode barely played a part and felt like a gimmick at the most. Replace the technology with simple security cameras and barely anything changes. As with Arkangel, I feel they didn’t even try to delve into the potential ramifications of the technology whatsoever. This episode was shocking, but not really in the typical Black Mirror sense we’ve all come to know and love. Rather than building up to some heart-wrenching twist, the way Crocodile tries to surprise us is much more… blunt to say the least. Oh, she’s got to kill the insurance investigator now. Oh, and she has to kill her husband because he knows where she is. Oh, and she has to kill his toddler child because it saw her. But she didn’t really have to because he was blind! But they can still probe the pet guinea pig so it was all for nothing! When you hit the audience with so many hollow gut punches, one after the other without any buildup, it just loses its effect. I left this episode more annoyed and confused than anything which really shouldn’t be the case considering I witnessed a 2-3 year old and his family get murdered.

Going back to the technology, it’s riddled with more holes than a swiss cheese. First of all, they make a big deal out of the fact that memories are entirely subjective(despite the fact this never really turns into something in the episode). If that’s the case, then HOW THE FUCK can insurance investigators use memories as evidence? If the guy who got ran over saw the truck then of course it’s going to look like it’s going too fast because he truly believes it was. They stress so much how inaccurate the technology is yet we only see it used in a job where accurate facts are VITAL. As well as that, most of the murder Mia committed could have been avoided easily. Shazia herself said “private stuff is private stuff”. Why didn’t Mia just refuse to let her use the memory probe on her? Sure it may be illegal to not answer a few questions but it can’t be a legal requirement to let them probe your goddamn brain! And don’t even get me started on the whole “the guinea pig saw her!” twist. Shazia had to use smells and music and all kinds of tricks to get a few blurry, subjective seconds of an event that happened a day ago out of a human. Yet the police had no trouble whatsoever getting the memory of Mia murdering the kid out of the guinea pig? The fact the technology even works on animals is already a huge stretch.

Overall, Crocodile has to be my least favourite episode of this season by a long shot. Full of plotholes with stupid technology and dull characters, it has to be the least Black Mirror episode in possibly the entire series. There were a few things I liked about this episode such as the stunning cinematography and the great acting, but in the end, this was the most depressingly bad episode this season, and one of the worst out of the entire series. If anything, this episode does have a suitable name. It feels like there’s a much better episode, hiding just under the water, waiting to strike… but it never does. Turns out it died due to river pollution.

Verdict: D

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Hyrule Warriors: Legends Review-Attack of the Cardboard Cutouts

Game Name: Hyrule Warriors Legends

Platforms: Nintendo 3DS and 2DS

Developers: Omega Force, Team Ninja

Publisher: Nintendo

Price: £34.99 or $39.99 on the Nintendo EShop

I don’t think anyone was expecting Hyrule Warriors. It came completely out of left field and landed on Nintendo’s ailing Wii U back in 2014 surprising… well, pretty much everyone. Combining the hack-and-slash, army-annihilating combat of Dynasty Warriors with the expansive Zelda universe, Hyrule Warriors was the most unexpected Nintendo spinoff since Pokemon Snap. Like everyone, I was surprised and intrigued by the idea. Sadly, I didn’t have a Wii U to play it on, so I didn’t get the chance to play it. Fortunately, an enhanced version was released for 3DS: Hyrule Warriors Legends. It promised the same experience as the original Wii U version(save for the reduced graphics) and a myriad of new content. However, it is only recently that I got ahold of it by way of a Christmas gift. So, after all these years of anticipation, what do I think of the game?

So, what kind of crazy story have Nintendo come up with to explain the various Legend of Zelda eras clashing together? Well, the story is certainly crazy, but it is far from good. Hyrule Warriors Legends introduces a new villain called Cia; a powerful sorceress who has an unreasonable infatuation with Link. My guess is that she was on her period when she observed Link doing something particularly heroic as she then somehow comes to the conclusion that the best way to get Link senpai to notice her is to destroy Hyrule. Of course, Link and a bunch of other Zelda characters including newcomer Lana go to stop her. Unfortunately, they fail and Cia opens up a whole bunch of portals combining Skyward Sword, Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time into one big Hyrulean amalgamation. Link and friends venture to all the different worlds to close the portals while Cia sits back and literally does nothing. After this, Link obtains the master sword, Cia tries to kill him multiple times despite her apparent ‘love’ for him and the day is eventually saved.

You may think my explanation of the game’s plot is crude and makes no sense, but honestly, that’s just how stupid Hyrule Warriors’ story is. I’ve completed the main story and I still have no clue what Cia’s motivations or even her plan was apart from “Hurr durr, I like Link so Hyrule needs to be annihilated!”. If not for her ‘character design'(massive melons) she’d be a completely forgettable villain and she’s by far the worst in the series. Look, I know the Legend of Zelda series isn’t exactly known for its riveting, epic and masterfully crafted stories, but at least the other games in the series had a clearly defined villain and goal. This game doesn’t even have that. Fortunately, the game partly makes up for this with an extra set of scenarios after Cia’s story where you get to play as Ganondorf as well as Zant and Ghirahim! This part of the story is again, far from a masterpiece, but it has a clear direction and playing as the bad guys for the first half of it is simply badass.

Thankfully the gameplay holds up much better. I’ve never played a Dynasty Warriors game before, but I can see how it’s become so popular after playing Legends. Combat is incredibly simple. You press the Y and X buttons to attack, combining them to pull off various devastating combos. As well as that, you can dodge roll with B to avoid enemy attacks. That’s the basics that make up the majority of the combat, but its much more complex than it seems on the surface level. While you fight, you’ll build up your special attack meter, and once its full, you can unleash a kickass special attack that tears through entire armies of enemies like they’re butter. There’s also another meter, your magic meter which is much harder to fill up but allows you to execute an even more powerful move called Focus Spirit. This enhances your warrior’s attack and attributes and generally makes them an even bigger force to be reckoned with for a short period of time. Defeating more enemies allows you to stay in Focus Spirit longer and it’ll eventually culminate in a mighty finishing move that deals massive damage to enemies in a large area.

On top of all this, Hyrule Warriors has a strategic element to it. Levels are massive and have multiple structures and objectives spread around their battlefield. Capturing keeps and outposts, defeating strong enemy captains and doing many other things increases your armies morale, making them stronger and moving you closer to victory. At the same time, you have to defend your own keeps and structures. If your base falls to the enemy, it’s game over. This can lead to some intense situations, but most of the time only because the AI for allied warriors is completely incompetent. They can move to markers you set on the map and fight off a few normal enemies but if you expect them to do anything else to help you attain victory, you’re severely overestimating them. You can prepare to do everything on the battlefield yourself. Warrior switching and the ability to teleport to certain part of the map means this doesn’t get too frustrating, but the AI has its moments.

As you progress through the story, you’ll also gain staple Zelda items such as bombs and the boomerang. Sadly, these don’t have much use except for beating the game’s various giant bosses which means they’re very situational and can feel useless at times. The only one I got a lot of use out of is the Ocarina which has the aforementioned ability to teleport you to certain areas of the map. Out of battle, you can also customise your large roster of warriors from the Zelda universe. First of all, badges can be created from materials gained from enemies which give warriors new combos and improve them in certain ways. Unfortunately the interface means it can be time-consuming and an absolute pain to craft badges for every character after a battle and the badges themselves are pretty repetitive among warriors. Potions can also be made in the apothecary and new weapons can be forged at the blacksmith but I never really got use out of these two features. I got along completely fine without them and weapons themselves seem completely unnecessary. Why would you need a more powerful weapon when the majority of enemies fall in one hit?

Finally, there’s “My Fairy”, a mini pet-simulator mode in which you can engage in various activities with the various fairies you can get throughout the game. You can feed them food gained from battles to level them up improving their stats. By feeding them the right food, they can learn unique skills that can be activated once per battle to give your warrior an advantage. These can be anything as simple as making hearts fill your magic gauge on top of healing you to something as risky as making you invincible at cost of your attack damage. You can also learn new skills from local players through “Party”. Finally, you can play dress up with your fairies in the “Salon” by equipping them with various clothing items with special effects. How do you get these clothing items you ask? Why, through adventure mode!

Adventure mode is the game’s main source of replayability, offering a huge map based on the world map from the original Legend of Zelda. Each tile contains a battle with special conditions that can be beaten to progress further on the map and unlock new characters, fairy clothing items and other things. The special conditions are somewhat varied with conditions as straightforward as “Beat the enemy Commander” to “Beat all the Giant Bosses” to weird quiz battle which require you to defeat the correct enemy based on a description of the right enemy.  There are a total of 128 battles on the first adventure map alone and I hear that more can be purchased through DLC. Suffice to say, between the various collectables, the large amount of medals/achievements and adventure mode as a whole, Hyrule Warriors Legends is nowhere near lacking in the content area.

Overall, I enjoyed Hyrule Warriors Legends a lot, and like Kid Icarus Uprising, I’ll probably play it a helluva lot in the near future. Hyrule Warriors is a game best played in short bursts, a point only further exemplified by Adventure Mode. If you play it for more than a few hours, the game’s glaring faults will become frustratingly evident to you. The gameplay can get repetitive, the performance issues-while nowhere near as bad as other reviewers make out-can be distracting, and the story is laughably bad. And that’s to say nothing of the game’s horrible graphics. But when you only play an hour or two in one session, the game is tons of fun, and is sure to give you well over a hundred hours of entertainment if you plan to 100% it. If you’re a fan of Zelda and/or the Dynasty Warriors games, then Hyrule Warriors Legends is a solid purchase.

Pros:

  • Tons of replayability
  • Fun, straightforward gameplay
  • Over 15 different playable characters in the base game, all of which are distinct from one another
  • Some characters have multiple weapons which change up their playstyle
  • Special attacks are immensely satisfying to use
  • Giant bosses are fun to fight
  • My Fairy is an alright pet simulator which can pay off with enough work
  • Good, long campaign
  • Amazing soundtrack
  • VOLGA!!!!!
  • Great Legend of Zelda fanservice

Cons:

  • Performance issues and FPS drops can be annoying unless you have a New 3DS
  • Graphics are bad to the point that enemies can look like cardboard cutouts
  • Gameplay can get repetitive
  • The story is really, really bad
  • Cia is one of the most forgettable villains in the series
  • The badge system needs a serious overhaul due to how annoying and time-consuming it is checking every single character and how the badges are all very similar for each character
  • Gold Skulltulas. I hate them so much.
  • Items aren’t all that useful except for giant bosses.

Nitpicks:

  • Certain parts of the game like the blacksmith and weapon system felt borderline pointless to me and I almost never used them
  • Warrior AI is stupid. Prepare to do literally everything yourself
  • Linkle is a pointless and unnecessary character(though she is fun to play)
  • Enemy captains are a joke and are ridiculously easy to defeat

Verdict: 7.5/10

Black Mirror: Arkangel Review

**SPOILER WARNING!!! DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN ARKANGEL IN ITS ENTIRETY”

Black Mirror Season Four got off to a strong start with the awesome space opera sci-fi USS Callister proving that the series still has plenty of steam left. It was the perfect introductory episode to the season, delectably dark but equally comedic and lighthearted. Arkangel goes back to the original serious and gritty tone of some of the earlier Black Mirror episodes in an intriguing commentary on the subject of helicopter parenting. It’s woefully apparent that not even children are safe in the universe of Black Mirror and if previous episodes like White Bear and Shut Up and Dance made this apparent, Arkangel exemplifies it. Does this episode manage to live up to the high expectations that USS Callister set it? Let’s find out!

Arkangel focuses on a single mother, Marie Sambrell, and her daughter Sara. One day when Sara is three years old, she goes missing while playing on a playground greatly increasing the worry and concern Marie has for her daughter. Although she is eventually found just a short while later, this prompts Marie to try out some new, cutting-edge tech that will allow her to monitor her child and keep tabs on her even when she’s far away. As you might have guessed, this technology is called “Arkangel”. It allows Marie to do all kinds of things to keep her child safe. It constantly alerts Marie to Sara’s location, it warns Marie if her child is harmed in any way and it even allows Marie to see through the eyes of her child as well as apply a filter that blocks out any inappopriate or dangerous images.

Arkangel has probably the most interesting technology concept this season and one of the most interesting concepts in the series as a whole. It blurs the line between harmless concern and dangerous obsession with its invasive, but ultimately practical features. Wouldn’t you want to know where your child, a part of you, is at all times? Or is that taking it too far? How much is too much? Throughout the episode, we see the device greatly affect the life of Sara as both a child and a teenager, ultimately resulting in the loving relationship she shares with her mother being fractured beyond repair. Her mother may have meant well, but that doesn’t change what she did, the actions she took that ruined her daughter’s life.

While the ending was incredibly impactful, I’m not entirely sure how to feel about it looking back on it. The parallel with Marie losing Sara at both the start and the end of the episode was brilliantly executed, but the bit before with Sara beating her mother to a bloody pulp with the tablet was just… completely unbelievable to say the least. Even with the filter on, it was obvious the damage Sara was doing to her mother, and the fact that she would continue smashing her face in despite her anger completely undermines her character and makes her seem inhuman. It just felt like that bit was written in solely for shock value, and as a result it makes the episode less believable and its characters less relatable.

My main problem with Arkangel is that it feels like there’s so much wasted potential here. Don’t get me wrong, the technological aspect was good in this episode but I feel like they could make an entire Black Mirror Season from the stuff shown throughout the episode. What if the tablet had broken at the end with the filter still on meaning anything even remotely dangerous was now filtered out for the rest of her life? What if breaking the tablet caused the chip in her brain to malfunction and kill her? What if someone hacked into the chip or tablet? And what about the old guy who said he was over 2,000 years old? This episode has got to be set seriously far in the future. The chip is connected directly to her brain, her nervous system, her senses; that alone has tons of episode potential. Yet the writers decided to focus on just the filter and surveillance aspect? Seems like a wasted opportunity to me.

Overall, I enjoyed Arkangel, but compared to the previous episode(USS Callister) it pales in comparison. There’s some great ideas here, but I felt like this episode got nowhere close to achieving its full potential. A lot more could have been done. On top of that, the ending is weak and just left me disappointing and dissatisfied. However, I do feel like this episode has an important message, and like some of the other episodes in this season, it leaks into the real world at some points. Helicopter parenting has become all too common and harmful in the age of information, and this episode highlights just how dangerous it can be. While not nearly as interesting or entertaining as USS Callister, Arkangel certainly has its place in the season, a place that would negatively impact the season were it to have never existed.

Verdict: B-

First Impressions: No More Heroes

Ah, the Nintendo Wii! Truly one of the best consoles ever made. With its intuitive motion controls and impressive library of well-designed, casual games, it managed to provide endless fun to millions of families across the globe. From the exciting, adventure-oriented Super Mario Galaxy to the vibrant minigame madness of Warioware Smooth Moves to the gloriously gory decapitations and dismemberment’s you can perform in No More Heroes, there is definitely no-hey wait, what was that last one again? Nintendo are pretty family-friendly. Everyone knows it, and it usually extends to the game libraries of their consoles as well… or does it? Sure, it may seem all lighthearted and happy-go-lucky on the surface level, but dig a little deeper and there are some seriously mature games for the system. Case in point, the game I’m going to be looking at today: No More Heroes. Probably the most dirty game I’ve ever inserted into my Nintendo Wii, what do I think of the game after playing a mere two levels?

The game begins quite suddenly with a quick and badass intro before throwing you straight into an overly long tutorial. I don’t usually like games just dumping a load of expository instructions on the player as soon as they take a step, but I can make an exception for No More Heroes as I doubt there’s a more graceful way of doing it. No More Heroes has a unique and complicated combat system but it’s fortunately quite easy to get to grips with once you get past the initial information overload and finally get to playing the game.

In most cases, simply swinging your sword around will get the job done. But that’s not that fun is it? No More Heroes knows this, and thus gives you multiple awesome ways to take down your foes. Sometimes you’ll have to move the position of your sword using the Wii remote to break through an enemies guard. You can also stun them with a low damage attack, giving you an opening to throw the enemy or just hack them to bits. Throwing the enemy is simple but satisfying; having you simply move the Wii remote and nunchuck in the shown directions. If you hit an enemy the same time they hit you, you’ll enter a clash where you have to rapidly spin the Wii remote around to knock them back and deal a finishing blow. Enemies can be knocked onto the ground and instakilled while they’re laying there. As well as all this, your beam katana as the game calls it has to be recharged from time to time. How do you do this you ask? By vigorously moving the Wii remote up and down like you’re performing a certain… lewd action! And this is just a simple explanation of the surface level of the game’s combat. There’s so much more such as the temporary powerups you can earn upon killing an enemy!

If you hadn’t guessed already, I love the game’s combat. It’s simply exhilarating, it never gets old, and it’s easy to get to grips with. The only thing I can think of that would make it better is if there were more enemy types. Apart from the game’s bosses, most enemies are complete cannon fodder. Anyway, after fighting through a level of pawns, you fight the boss which is a lot more fun, even if their health bars can be a bit too big in my opinion. After this, gameplay is broken up by an open-world that you’re free to explore. It’s no GTA or Saints Row, but it’s still fun to drive around, running over pedestrians on your scooter, though it is easy to get your vehicle stuck on something. To access the next level/fight, you have to do either assassin work or side jobs(basically minigames) to earn enough money to pay the entrance fee. It only took me one of each job to access the second fight, but I can certainly see this getting tedious later on as the price for the next match rises.

As for what little story I’ve seen so far, it’s passable, but that’s pretty much it. The main character, Travis Touchdown, encounters an assassin and engages in an epic fight… which you don’t get to play through, throwing him into the UAA(United Assassins Association). By defeating the top ten ranked assassins, he can make a name for himself and earn a crapload of money in the process. It’s not great, but I never really felt a longing for an impressive story and I don’t think the game really needs it anyway. Apart from that, the graphics are unique and look pretty good for the Wii and the soundtrack is amazing so far!

Overall, I’ve greatly enjoyed what little I’ve played of No More Heroes. It’s a kickass game with a kickass soundtrack and a kickass combat system. No More Heroes just seems like an excuse for its creator to try a bunch of cool and crazy ideas, and in this case at least, I don’t see a problem with that. The game is fun to play, and when it comes down to it, that’s one of the most vital parts of a great video game. I can certainly see how it has become one of the most popular Wii games ever made. As long as the combat doesn’t get too repetitive then I think I’m going to enjoy this game a lot.

Black Mirror: USS Callister Review

*SPOILERS AHEAD! Read at your own risk.*

The wait is finally over! Black Mirror Season Four is here! Well… it’s been here for about a week actually, I just like to take my time with these things. But that’s not the point, the point is that another series of technological Twilight Zone has hit Netflix, drawing us in like lambs to the slaughter once again, ready to have our souls crushed by the delectably dark stories that we are presented. So here I am, after seeing the first episode of the fourth season of Black Mirror, absolutely flabbergasted and more than ready to try and do this episode justice by reviewing it. Just keep in mind that as it says above, this review will contain spoilers for the episode. I don’t care how little you mind spoilers, if you haven’t seen the episode, leave and go watch it. Black Mirror is really a series you don’t want spoiled no matter what. Anyway, with that said, let’s get on with the review!

First of all, it seems I was somewhat accurate in judging what the episode was about. I mentioned in my “Top Six Season Four Black Mirror Episode’s I’m Most Excited for” that I thought the episode could be about “people trapped in a simulation that doubles as a prison” and I was partly right in that regard. USS Callister is the series’ second gaming-themed episode as well as the second one to focus on the ‘cookies’ idea seen in White Christmas. The episode focuses on game developer and programmer Robert Daley, a man jointly responsible for the hit virtual reality space game known as ‘Infinite’. Unfortunately, life hasn’t been to kind to him and he’s overshadowed and pushed to the side by much more well-known co-founder Walton. He’s relegated to a small corner of the company building where he’s forced to work to strict deadlines while his fellow employees either ignore or ridicule him. Out of anger, he gets a sample of their DNA from a coffee cup or something similar and uses it to put a sentient copy of their person into a modded version of Infinite where’s he’s the omnipotent, all-knowing leader of a Star Trek-esque crew. Their only option is to play along or risk invoking the wrath of their creator, and Nanette, a more recent Infinite employee is his next victim.

I liked the focus on a mistreated game developer since developer mistreatment is a huge issue that really needs more attention, but you didn’t come here to hear me rant about Triple A companies being greedy bastards so I’ll leave it there. Anyway, Daley turns out to be possibly one of my favourite villains of all time. He’s cruel, power hungry and merciless, yet can you really blame him? AI’s aren’t real people, they’re just lines of code, 0’s and 1’s, and as a programmer, Daley knows this more than anyone. He’s constantly mistreated in real-life by people who don’t appreciate his genius; but he’s not hurting them. All he’s doing is simply taking out his anger on computer-generated copies. Just like a gamer, playing GTA and taking out his frustrations on the hapless NPC civilians to ensure he doesn’t go over the edge in real life. Daley is an effective villain because while you may cheer on the heroes, you aren’t exactly condemning the villain. In the end, you don’t hate him because he’s imposing and malevolent, but because he reflects a small part of yourself back at you.

That’s not to say the other characters are bad by any stretch of the imagination. Each one is stupendously acted and brimming with character. Characters like Nanette and Walton manage to make even the comedic moments feel dramatic. What can you do against a guy who can turn you into a monster or delete your face or remove your genitals at the wave of a hand? You’d think the answer would be nothing but it’s surprising what the human, or rather, computer-generated human mind can do in an impossible situation. The escape plan they hatch in the end is epic, clever, and kind of meta, involving computer-generate Nanette blackmailing her real human counterpart in real life. And the payoff in the end is exhilarating, well worth the roughly 50 minutes of setup.

There’s only one big flaw with USS Callister, and that’s the numerous gaping plotholes that litter the episode. I can easily think of a hundred or so for the escape plan alone. Daley is basically God in the game, but… he didn’t code some kind of speed hack in for him to easily catch up with the ship or… a method of stopping the ship when he’s not on it… or hell, just preventing the crew members from piloting the ship while the game is paused? Now that I think about it, why didn’t he just exit the game and wait for the update to finish? They can’t pilot the ship if he’s not in the game. Robert Daley is supposed to be a genius goddamnit but this just completely undermines his power and intelligence. And what about that bit in the end where Daley is trapped in the game as it’s deleted? Doesn’t that seem like a serious fucking flaw to you? And this happened because of a single virus! How the hell hasn’t Infinite crashed and burned right now? What if a hacker got into the game and released a single virus causing millions of players to be trapped and/or killed? On top of all that, the ending just downright sucks. What happened to wanting to die; the ENTIRE REASON you tried to escape Daley? Nope, we’re trapped in a slightly better prison now so everything’s hunky dory!

Overall, USS Callister was a pleasant surprise, just like the best Black Mirror episodes. It had a great, if not completely original concept, some excellent characters and actors, and proved to be possibly one of the best Star Trek parodies ever made. It’s not perfect thanks to the countless plotholes and the sub-par ending, but then, nothing ever is. USS Callister was an amazing episode to kick off the season with, and if this is simply the bar to entry for all the other episodes, then we may be looking at the best season of Black Mirror thus far.

Verdict: A-

Titan Quest Anniversary Edition Review-The Most Intense Clicking You’ll Ever Experience

Game Name: Titan Quest Anniversary Edition

Platform: Microsoft Windows, iOS/Android, Xbox One(2018), Playstation 4(2018), Nintendo Switch(2018)

Developers: Iron Lore Entertainment, THQ Nordic

Publishers: THQ Nordic

Price: £17.99 or $19.99

2017 was a crazy, crazy year. Apart from its dubbing as the ‘year of the lootbox’, all kinds of things happened in gaming. The Nintendo Switch was released and produced two GOTY(Game of the Year) contenders. A new multiplayer Battle Royale game known as PUBG(PlayerUnknown’s BattleGround) was elevated to the top of Steam’s ‘Top Games by Current Player Count’ completely crushing all other competition. And another startling story, one not as well-known but equally shocking as some of the other news this year, caught my eye. A while ago, in the most recent of Steam’s infamous Summer Sales, I bought a game called Titan Quest Anniversary Edition. I didn’t think too much about it. It was cheap and had a focus on Greek Mythology which I’ve been infatuated with ever since I read Percy Jackson. A week later, I’d all but forgotten about it. However, a mere few months ago, Titan Quest made the news. The hack and slash ARPG(Action Role-playing Game) that was first released over a decade ago in 2006… was getting a new expansion! Suffice to say, this piqued my interest in the game just enough for me to try it out. A month later, and what do you know, here I am reviewing it. So, was Titan Quest Anniversary Edition worthy of my time?

Titan Quest has your staple ARPG gameplay; as in you use left click for basically everything. You attack enemies by clicking on them, gaining experience, gold, and loot upon their death. Once your experience reaches a certain threshold, you level up and get two attribute points to spend on your base stats, as well as three skill points to spend on skills. Skills can be either active(activated by pressing a number key) or provide passive buffs. Gold can be spent on a variety of things such as potions, new equipment, and making artifacts, powerful pieces of equipment that provide huge buffs and resistances. Loot is as abundant as dirt, but most of them are similar in quality to dirt also meaning you have to watch out for powerful green and blue equipment. Relics and charms can also be dropped which can either be combined with each other to be made more powerful and act as an ingredient in artifacts, or applied to your equipment to give them extra buffs such as increased poison damage.

If you’re easily tired by repetitive gameplay then Titan Quest isn’t for you. Don’t get me wrong, I have over sixty hours of playtime and I still find it fun. But you’ll rarely deviate from the standard attack enemy, use skill, attack enemy, use skill, attack enemy, consume potion, use skill from beginning to end. Another big problem with the game is the clunkiness of its outdated systems and mechanics. Granted, it is a game from 2006, but you’d think the numerous updates the anniversary edition has received since then would make it a bit more intuitive. I can’t tell you the amount of times my character refused to move to that empty spot while I was being attacked by enemies resulting in my death, or how many times I tried to attack that enemy only to attack the enemy right next to him on accident. And don’t even get me started on *shiver* inventory management. Despite this, the game has received, and is still receiving regular balancing changes and bug fixes which I can hardly fault them for.

Titan Quest makes a few changes to the typical ARPG Hack and Slash formula however. Early in the game, you’re allowed to choose one of nine masteries from the lifestealing spirit mastery to the ranged, piercing hunter to the companion summoning Druid. Okay, well that’s not too different from classes, what’s the big deal? Well, only a bit further on, you’re allowed to choose a SECOND mastery. There are well over 50 mastery combinations which is certainly nothing to scoff at. While some are certainly better than others, you’re still allowed a huge amount of freedom in how you want to build your character in terms of equipment and ability. You don’t even have to choose a second mastery if you don’t want to! Personally, I enjoyed playing as a Ranger, a combination of the Hunting and Druid masteries. I used my wolf companions to occupy enemies and tank damage while I fired at foes from a distance. This means there’s a large incentive to replay the game and try out all the different masteries and mastery combinations. Already in my second playthrough playing as a pure Defender character, I’m enjoying a wildly different playstyle to that of my first character.

There are also three different difficulties to complete: Normal, Epic, and Legendary. What’s annoying about them however, is that you need to complete Normal to unlock Epic, and Epic to unlock Legendary. This doesn’t sound so bad, but the campaign is around 40 hours long and this is PER CHARACTER meaning you need to complete the game three times with each character to beat Legendary which should take you at least 100 hours. This only adds to the repetitiveness of the gameplay and it’s a nightmare for completionists as there’s achievements for completing the game on Legendary with each mastery. Speaking of achievements, there’s 88 in total, and a single achievement could set you back several dozen hours. There’s no shortage of content for completionists here.

Apart from that, the story is decent. It’s nothing special. Not horrible, but not a masterpiece either. Hordes of monsters are attacking and no-one seems to know where they’re coming from or how to stop them. The God’s aren’t exactly being helpful and barely appear at all, so it’s up to you to get to the bottom of it and save Greece! Despite this, the voice acting is great and I enjoyed talking to and listening to every single NPC in the game. As well as that, the music is epic, just the right amount of ambient and intense; the orchestral scores in this game almost brought a tear to my eye at times though the tracks aren’t all that memorable and are more of an in-the-moment kind of thing.

Overall, Titan Quest Anniversary Edition is a solid entry in the ARPG Hack and Slash lootathon genre. It makes good use of the strengths of the genre as well as adding its own with a variety of fun classes, a huge amount of customisation, at least in regards to your equipment and playstyle, and an expansive world. However, it also has its fair share of the problems of the genre. A clunky system, abhorrent inventory management and repetitive gameplay keep this from being a masterpiece. Nevertheless, with a campaign that took me 60 hours to complete and an extraordinary amount of replayability, Titan Quest Anniversary Edition is well worth your money. Whether you’re new to the genre or a veteran with intricate knowledge of how to most effectively to annihilate your foes, Titan Quest Anniversary Edition is sure to provide many hours of entertainment.

Pros:

  • Nine different masteries/classes all with varying playstyles
  • Being able to pick two masteries allows you to make a character and form a playing style that feels unique
  • Main campaign is quite long even if you’re not planning to 100%, around 40-60 hours long
  • MASSIVE amount of replayability
  • Gameplay is the right amount of challenging, even on Normal difficulty
  • Gameplay, although repetitive, still manages to fun and entertaining
  • Levelling up is exciting and rewarding
  • Tons of loot to further customise your character
  • Online multiplayer
  • Huge world that feels open despite being mostly linear and doesn’t hold your hand
  • Regularly updated with balance changes and bug fixes
  • Extra bosses and other content in higher difficulties make it worth replaying
  • Some fairly good voice acting and music

Cons:

  • Clunky, out-of-date systems
  • Gameplay can get very repetitive
  • You have to complete the game once to unlock epic difficulty and once again to unlock legendary… PER CHARACTER
  • It can be boring and can take a while to get to certain places, even with portals allowing you to teleport to major locations
  • Some enemy types are way too common and thus get tiring to fight (*cough* *cough* Satyrs *cough*)
  • Repetitive environments blend into each other and get tiring to look at, only really changing when you go to another act
  • Graphics are decent but dated
  • Very little character customisation. You choose your tunic colour and gender and that’s basically it
  • Story is meh at best

Nitpicks:

  • Levelling up can be agonisingly slow
  • Bosses are woefully easy with a few exceptions, at least on Normal
  • I found vendors borderline useless and only really bought potions from them
  • Greater Artifacts are way too hard to make in my opinion. I completed the game doing every side quest and exploring every nook and cranny and didn’t even have half of the ingredients for a Greater Artifact by the end

Verdict: 8.5/10

Buy Titan Quest on Steam here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/475150/Titan_Quest_Anniversary_Edition/

 

Welcome to GamersGuild 2.0!

Hey everyone, hope you all had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!

As you’ve probably noticed, I decided to give the site a small overhaul in preparation for another great year. I’ve updated the About the Site and About Me pages and added a Review Score Guide as well as changed my background.

I hope you all enjoy the new design, and I’ll see you on Tuesday for my first post of the year!