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  1. [​IMG]
    __John Marston, a former outlaw, is forced by the federal government to hunt down the members of his old gang.
    __Oh, the enemies I'm going to make for this one! I'm just going to say it upfront: I did not like this game. I know I'm in a small minority on this, but I can't just pretend I'm as enraptured as everyone else. On the contrary: this game made me angry! I simply couldn't condense my thoughts to 250 words, so I've decided to make this a longer review than usual, turn this into an epic rant. Also, fair warning: this review will contain spoilers.
    __Before I start ranting, though, I will admit that the game looks stunning. The graphics are stellar, and the map is meticulously planned and detailed. The most fun I had was riding around admiring the scenery, especially on clear starry nights. A lot of the character interactions made me laugh, too. But that's where my compliments end. Everything else was just plain torturous!
    __At every turn, this game found some new way to piss me off; there are too many examples to count! But the main source of my rage was the pacing of the narrative. At first, I was only mildly interested in the story. The goal was to stop Bill Williamson, and that single clear-cut goal is what held my interest as I assembled a team to storm his fort. But when it turned out he wasn't even there, I was furious! That was my equivalent of "our princess is in another castle". And none of what followed piqued my interest in the slightest, probably because the game had teased me into thinking the assault on the fort was the climax; I felt like it should have been over already, and I was resentful that it had put me right back to square one. The rest of the game kept extending that tease: every single mission promised the goal would be achieved right away, only for the game to keep saying, "Soon. You've got to do this one thing first," over and over and over again! I wasn't angry at the characters for endlessly using me: I was angry at the game for dragging itself out for no good reason whatsoever! The longer it kept going, the more enraged I got, until eventually I was literally screaming at the TV! Some missions turned out to be dead ends, which made me say out loud, "Oh, fuck off!" This game felt like my own personal purgatory: it was constantly dangling one simple goal in front of my eyes, only to continuously snatch it out of reach. Even towards the end, when you're finally reunited with your family, the game still just keeps going! I was wailing by that point: "Why are you still making me do missions I don't enjoy?!"
    __'Cos yeah, I hardly found any of the missions superficially fun either. Many of them were essentially identical to earlier ones, just repeating something I didn't even like the first time. And let me tell you, I really started abusing the "skip checkpoint" feature (that's one thing I'm thankful for: that the game was considerate enough to give you an easy way out if you fail too many times), especially whenever I had to ride and shoot at the same time! I generally suck at video games, and in this case I just could not hit moving targets! I grew to rely on the slow-motion Dead Eye mechanic just so I could hit them, but sometimes it just wouldn't activate! I read something about having to charge it, but why was that necessary?
    __The only reason I kept playing, kept enduring all that hell, was because there was still an end goal and I wanted to reach it. This wasn't like L.A. Noire, where I gave up about halfway through the third chapter (Homicide) because it seemed like there was no goal other than to solve each case and, again, the process was just tedious. (Actually, between those two examples, Bully and the fact that I have no interest whatsoever in playing GTA, I've decided I'm just not a fan of Rockstar Games in general.)
    __And that's all I have to say. Believe me, I wanted to like this game, especially given how immensely popular it is. But like I said, it just kept pissing me off! Ultimately, it's one of only two games to date that I've actively disliked (the other one being Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on PS1). Sorry for beating it down like I did, but as it's one of the most beloved games in recent memory, I felt you deserved the unabridged version of why I can't chime in with that praise.
    __My rating: 40%.
  2. __Sometimes I neglect to write reviews on my blog for a long time, to the point where they pile up and I have no inclination to do anything more than copy and paste from my Twitter feed. But recently, I've started pushing myself to not put off writing for so long, so my "first impressions" posts are starting to become more frequent and hopefully more earnest and detailed. I'm not sure what's changed lately – maybe it's the fact that I recently joined a Discord server (basically a chat room) that's given my almost nonexistent social life a bit of a boost – but in any case, I seem to have found my drive for writing once again.:) I'm not sure how long it'll last, as I …

    Read on for…
    Baby Driver (2017)
    Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
    Don't Hang Up (2017)
    The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
    And Far Cry 4 (PS4)
  3. __I'd actually watched a few Let's Plays of Batman: The Telltale Series before playing it myself. Well, this week, I finally did. I had to play it on the PS4, though, because this is the first Telltale game that my laptop just couldn't handle; I couldn't even make it through the opening cutscene, because it had to load for like ten seconds every time it switched location! Now, granted, I also experienced some loading delays with The Walking Dead: A New Frontier (which ruined the effect of that jaw-dropping shock at the end of episode one), but to nowhere near the same extreme.

    __Bruce Wayne struggles to deal with newly surfaced damning family secrets while, as Batman, fighting a new threat: a militia group calling themselves "the Children of Arkham".
    __When I first heard that Telltale was going to do a Batman game, I suspected it might focus more on Bruce Wayne than Batman, which would better suit Telltale's style – and it'd be a welcome new approach. I predicted correctly, and the result didn't disappoint.:) The problems he has to deal with as Bruce Wayne in this story are, quite simply, stellar.
    __That's not to say it doesn't deliver on the Batman front, though. In particular, if you choose to visit Mayor Hill as Batman, the resulting scene is too cool for words!:)
    __Now, spoilers here, but what I love most about this game is how creative it gets with the Batman mythos, with some ingenious new twists. I love its idea that Bruce Wayne and Oswald Cobblepot were childhood friends. I love Bruce questioning the foundation of his entire crusade after learning the truth about his parents. I love who they picked for the Children of Arkham leader's identity, and the deeply disturbing reason why. And I love the Joker treating Bruce as a friend and partner in their first meeting, which adds a whole new dynamic to their future relationship.
    __Overall, I wouldn't say it's the best I've seen from Telltale story-wise, but it's still on par in terms of characterisation, respect for the franchise in question, and subverting your expectations.
    __My rating: 85%.
  4. __Before I start, let me explain something. The reason why my blog entries on this site are mere previews, with links to my Wordpress blog being the only way to read more, is because there appears to be a word limit here. I reduce the posts to 125 words or so because, by a certain length, it keeps giving me an "internal server error" message; it won't let me publish the post or even save a draft. So my apologies to anyone who hates the "follow the link to read more" practice, but I'm afraid it appears to be my only choice.
    __With that said, let's start talking about Dragon Age: Origins.:)

    __An Archdemon is amassing an army of Darkspawn, and the player, one of the last remaining Grey Wardens, must work to unite the fractured armies and save the land of Ferelden.
    __If you're one of this game's many fans, I'm afraid I must disappoint you: I can't quite concur. At times, the game almost won me over. I always enjoyed talking to my companions, especially developing the romance with Morrigan, and I loved some particular sections: the Sloth Demon level (in theory, at least), the Brecilian Ruins, the escape from Fort Drakon, and the riddles protecting the Urn of Sacred Ashes. I could probably write a further 250 words or more just about my character's personal journey.:)
    __But it's all ruined by the most frequent …

    Read on here: https://maxle2000.wordpress.com/201...dragon-age-origins-ps3-more-on-mass-effect-3/
  5. __I'm currently spending my free time playing Dragon Age: Origins. Yeah, after completing and (for the most part) loving the Mass Effect trilogy, I decided to check out BioWare's other big seller.:) I'll save my thoughts on the game as a whole for my next "first impressions" post, but for now, I have something to say about one type of enemy you encounter: the spiders.
    __Now, most other times I've encountered giant spiders in games, they've freaked me out bigtime! Resident Evil and Skyrim immediately spring to mind. But for some reason, the spiders in Dragon Age: Origins don't bother me at all, and I've been trying to put my finger on why that is.
    __First of all, let me point out, I am not afraid of spiders in real life. There's no denying they look unpleasant, and I do throw every spider I see out the nearest window because I don't want them around, but at the same time, I don't live in a country that has venomous ones, so I know any spider I'm likely to encounter is completely harmless. But running into giant spiders in video games is another matter entirely, because I can't think of anything more horrifying than finding yourself small enough to be prey for a spider! (That's probably why Shelob from Return of the King also gave me nightmares: because she was presented as catching and eating her prey just like a real spider would.)
    __So, back to my original question: why did they scare me in Resident Evil and Skyrim but not here? Well, in Skyrim's case, the first-person perspective may have been a major part of it. But Resident Evil and Dragon Age are both third-person games, so how did one make giant spiders scary but not the other? I think it's for a few reasons, actually.
    __One: Resident Evil put a ton of effort into making the spiders look realistic, right down to their movement. The sound effects of their footfalls in the silence is also enough to make you feel distinctly uncomfortable.
    __Two: in Resident Evil, you see the spiders crawling on the ceiling, so you dread having to pass underneath them for fear of them dropping on you. Yeah, for some reason, enemies on the ceiling always get to me!:) It's the same reason I find the barnacles to be the most nightmarish enemies in Half-Life 2 – except instead of dropping on you, they drag you up to your doom.
    __Three: you feel so much more vulnerable in Resident Evil, whereas in Dragon Age their attacks do very little damage because of how many hit points you have. That's hardly surprising, considering they're two completely different types of games: one's a survival horror and the other's an RPG.
    __And four: the way Resident Evil is presented makes them feel so much bigger. They're in tight, enclosed environments, while all the locations in Dragon Age, even the indoor ones, look like wide open spaces. That, though, may be the result of another related reason: the characters in Dragon Age look much smaller on the screen, with a lot of space around them, which makes the enemies look smaller too. In other words, the game's presentation makes the enemies seem much less imposing. They look and feel more like chess pieces than living, breathing opponents, but in Resident Evil they actually feel alive and actively hunting you.
  6. __Welcome back.:) I haven't seen that many movies lately, so this post will focus more on the games I've been playing. I spent nearly all my free time throughout the month of May playing all three instalments in the Mass Effect trilogy in a row. Then the final episode of Telltale's The Walking Dead: A New Frontier came out, so now's the perfect time to sum up my thoughts on all the episodes of the third season as a whole.

    __But before all that, we start, as always, at the cinema.:) Here are the three movies I've gone to see since I last checked in…

    Ghost in the Shell (2017)
    __In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: a human saved from …

    Read on for…
    Ghost in the Shell (2017)
    Alien: Covenant (2017)
    Wonder Woman (2017)
    Mass Effect (PC)
    Mass Effect 2 (PC)
    Mass Effect 3 (PC)
    And The Walking Dead: A New Frontier (PC)
  7. __After posting my epic rant on Mass Effect 3's ending, I realised I also had something to say about another, far more serious topic. As if to pour salt on the wound after my experiencing that infuriating conclusion, the universe threw yet another major piece of bad news at me upon waking up this morning: the news of a bomb attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.
    __I haven't been this angry at the world since the 2012 cinema shootout in Aurora. Not to sound cold, but I've kind of become desensitised to this kind of bad news. Violence like this is happening in the Middle East all the time, but we westerners only seem to take notice when it happens on our doorstep. …

    Read on here: https://maxle2000.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/my-words-on-the-manchester-attack/
  8. __Okay, so I just finished playing Mass Effect 3 last night, and I just had to get this out there because I am super pissed about the ending! And I know I'm not alone on this; just about all the fans reacted the same way when they first played it five years ago. Yes, it's taken me until now to get round to playing the Mass Effect trilogy, so I'm sure I'm just preaching to the choir by this point, but I don't care; I now feel the fans' fury one hundred percent, and I just had to get all my thoughts down and set the record straight on why I, along with everyone else, hate this ending.
    __And this probably goes without saying, given …

    Read on here: https://maxle2000.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/my-mass-effect-3-ending-rant-spoilers/
  9. __A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece here on my blog in which I talked comic book adaptations, comparing animated films and shows to the live-action movies. At one point, I mentioned that I hadn't yet seen The Spectacular Spider-Man, the animated series that ran for two seasons. Well, now I have – I ran through all twenty-six episodes in two evenings – and I'm ready to share my thoughts. I don't usually do "first impressions" reviews of TV shows, because there's just too much to cover, but with this one I felt I should make an exception.
    __Spider-Man 2, you have been dethroned!:) This show is now my favourite incarnation of the character! I used to think that the 90s animated series, despite its …

    Read on here: https://maxle2000.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/first-impressions-the-spectacular-spider-man-2008/
  10. __Now that we're three months into the year, now's the perfect time to give you my first "first impressions" post of 2017, covering what few movies I've seen up to this point. I usually post these on a Saturday, but I felt it was far more appropriate for this one to fall at the end of the month instead of the end of the week. You can sort of think of this as a quarterly report.:)

    __As always, the best place to start is the cinema. This is what I've gone to see so far this year…

    La La Land (2016)
    __In Los Angeles, jazz pianist Sebastian falls for aspiring actress Mia, and they soon end up having to cope with the pressures of success. …

    Read on for…
    La La Land (2016)
    Split (2017)
    The Space Between Us (2017)
    Logan (2017)
    Kong: Skull Island (2017)
    Get Out (2017)
    Life (2017)
    Power Rangers (2017)
    The Wolverine (2013)
    Ghost in the Shell (1995)
    Mowgli's Brothers (1976)
    And Moby Dick (Herman Melville)
  11. __I'm just going to say this upfront: the DCEU movies have not impressed me so far. I know I'm not alone in thinking Warner Bros. is making a complete pig's ear of this franchise, but why is that? I've heard it suggested that they clearly don't care about the characters or stories they're adapting; they're just treating the source material as an anonymous property to manipulate at will – and their will is nothing more than to make money. Man of Steel was a transparent attempt to turn Superman into The Dark Knight, and now they're rushing out a Justice League movie just to capitalise on the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    __While I do feel there's a lot of truth in those suppositions, though, that's not why …

    Read on here: https://maxle2000.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/dc-and-marvel-animated-movies/?frame-nonce=e09f0f69b3
  12. __Jurassic Park is easily the best dinosaur movie ever made, not to mention one of my top five favourite movies of all time. At the time of its release in 1993, it presented the most accurate, up-to-date portrait of dinosaurs people had ever seen. These were not the slow, dumb reptiles of yesteryear; they were quick, intelligent and birdlike.
    __But that doesn't mean the movie and its sequels got everything right. Dinosaur fanatics like me, who know the science behind real dinosaurs, know that there are several points where the movies missed the mark. Hell, even the very premise of the movie – cloning dinosaurs from DNA preserved in amber – is actually a scientific impossibility. DNA molecules only have a half-life of a few hundred years, …

    Read on here: https://maxle2000.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/my-top-10-inaccuracies-in-jurassic-park/
  13. __I don't like the word "overrated". It seems like a pretty selfish and presumptuous way to describe something, to be honest. In today's Internet age, it's become far more commonplace: people tend to use it very casually just for a dig at something that's popular. To me, it's a word that has very arrogant connotations, like you believe your opinion is the only one that matters. I think using that word is effectively no different than forcing your opinion on others, calling theirs "wrong". That's why I never like to use the word "overrated" in my reviews, or when I'm talking about movies in everyday conversation. Regardless of how much I dislike something that's otherwise very popular, I know it still comes down to personal …

    Read on here: https://maxle2000.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/if-i-had-to-say-overrated/
    TheHappySpaceman likes this.
  14. __I'm no scientist, but I'm such a nerd that I have these random scientific/mathematical thoughts occasionally. And I was thinking last night about how long it would take to count to a million.
    __Have you ever tried it? Neither have I, but I can already tell it's no easy feat! In fact, I've thought of a little experiment to give you an idea of just how much a million really is. By counting one per second, you could count to a thousand in less than half an hour: sixteen minutes and forty seconds, to be exact. If you kept consistently counting the seconds for twenty-four hours a day, it'd take you eleven-and-a-half days to count to a million! It's that big a number! To be precise, a million seconds is 11 days, 13 hours, 46 minutes and 40 seconds.

    __Now try to imagine how long it would take to count to a billion! Right off the bat, I could tell that it would be an insanely long time, given that I'd at least have to multiply eleven days by a thousand!
    __This timespan's a little trickier to pin down, because a billion seconds is over thirty years, and you have to take leap years into account. Depending on when you start, the pattern of leap years could involve major recalculations and open up a whole new can of worms. So, to keep it simple, let's assume that you start counting at midnight on January 1st in the year following a leap year, effectively starting the timer at zero. From that point, a billion seconds is 31 years, 252 days, 1 hour, 46 minutes and 40 seconds! (Yeah, I did the math – and double-checked it.)
    __I was born in a leap year, for instance, so let's take the year following my birth as an example. A billion seconds would span 00:00:00 on January 1st 1989 to 01:46:40 on September 10th 2020!
    __My birthday is November 25th, and apparently I was born at ten minutes to midnight, so by my calculations, at roughly 1.37 AM on August 5th 2020, I'll officially be able to say I've lived for a billion seconds!:D

    __Once I figured all that out, I realised very quickly that trying to count the age of the Earth – 4.54 billion years – would be completely impossible. It immediately becomes obvious at just the first step: 31 times four is 124 years, and to date, nobody's ever lived that long. So I don't even need to bother calculating it fully; 4.54 billion seconds is much longer than a human lifetime. Does that tell you anything about how old the Earth is?:)
  15. __Happy New Year!:) And I'm sure many of us can't wait to turn our backs on 2016! This was quite possibly one of the worst years in recent memory; it was practically a never-ending string of bad news! This was the year that gave us Brexit, and the US presidential election produced the result everyone was dreading. I don't want to say too much about these political developments, partly because I know they're highly controversial and partly because I generally don't care, but the overall impression I got of this year's political climate was that it marked a triumph for hate, discrimination and intolerance, and a severe blow to basic human decency and any sense of progression.
    __Not to mention, this was a year so …

    Read on here: https://maxle2000.wordpress.com/2016/12/31/2016-in-film-my-favourites-and-least-favourites/