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Netflix TV Review: The Umbrella Academy: Season 1

A disbanded group of superheroes reunites after their adoptive father, who trained them to save the world, dies.

 

 

I will be the first to hold my hands up and say that seeing the trailer to The Umbrella Academy initially left me feeling a bit cold. The opening to the trailer left me expecting a terrible mix of Harry Potter and Slaughterhouse Rulez (the latter being one of the worst films I’ve ever seen). I was proven wrong by several people who personally recommended it to me, plus the improved second half of the trailer sold it for me. Based on the comics books of the same name by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, the adaptation was originally planned as a film in 2011, but it wasn’t until 2017 when the project was approved for a television series by Netflix.

 

 

We begin in 1989, when on the 1st October, 43 women from all over the world gave birth, but none of them experienced a pregnancy prior to this day. At the news of this phenomenon, Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore), an eccentric billionaire, made it his mission to adopt as many of the babies as he could. In the end, he formed a family of seven children who he raised as an elite group of superheroes. We’re introduced to the siblings in the present day as they discover that their father has died, which is where we quickly learn that his funeral is not only the reunion of the brothers and sisters, but the beginning of many questions for both the characters and the viewer about who he really was and how he died.

 

 

The timeline goes back and forth as we understand the dysfunctional family within The Umbrella Academy from youth to present day, teasing at the individual tales of the people only known to their father by numbers rather than names. One (Luther (Tom Hopper)) has super strength, Two (Diego (David Castañeda)) can control the trajectory of thrown objects, Three (Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman)) can turn lies into reality, Four (Klaus (Robert Sheehan)) can talk to the dead and Five (known as Five or The Boy (Aidan Gallagher)) can time travel. Five’s power is significant to the story and he has foreseen that the end of the world is days away. Six (Ben (Justin H. Min)) is deceased and we know very little about him other than Klaus can still communicate with him beyond the grave. Finally, Seven (Vanya (Ellen Page)) appears to have no power. Her father’s continuous reminders of this and encouraged isolation from her siblings leaves her as a shadow compared to them. Little does she know, that she has more to give than anyone… and more to take way for that matter.

 

 

The casting is strong, featuring familiar faces such as Ellen Page and Tom Hopper to name a few. Other than occasional rusty combat scene, no one disappoints.  Even Mary J. Blige as Cha-cha, an assassin sent to find Number Five is a nice surprise as she proves to be a capable actress in yet another genre.

 

 

At ten episodes, it’s certainly not a big commitment, but in all honesty, I believe the story could have been told in eight or nine if it shortened some of the many flashbacks, such as the tragic life and times of Leonard Peabody and why he’s so invested in Vanya. Having said that, if these things are rushed, maybe we would be left with too many unnecessary questions. The finale was a tad far-fetched (but when was the apocalypse ever anything other than far-fetched?) and I didn’t feel quite as invested in it as I hoped, but it’s still worth watching for the explosive CGI and that punchy soundtrack to pull it all together like any superhero production should. Without completely ruining it for you, season two is certainly an option if Number Five’s got anything to do with it. It would also help if Netflix gives a second season the unconfirmed (but likely) green light.

 

 

Sometimes the superhero genre can be isolating, bringing a world to the screen just for the people that appreciate their comic book origins. It’s totally understandable; the fanbase are some of the most loyal, enthusiastic followers you can find, so they should be valued and shown gratitude with strong storytelling and attention to detail. The Umbrella Academy however is a welcomed exception for people like me, who with minimal experience of comic books, felt included and informed throughout the series. The plot was understandable despite the several branches to it and the general strangeness of the situation they’re in, so if you’re looking for a refreshing take on superheroes that offers a more inclusive approach, The Umbrella Academy might just work for you. It’s not perfect, but the show is about flaws and how despite them, we can overcome, so it’s good enough for me.

 

 

Check out the trailer, see what you think –

 

Umbrella Academy Is a New Class of Superhero Story and a solid 8 out of 10

~Gemma


March 14th, 2019 by Gemma
Posted in General, Movie Review | No Comments »

Multiplatform Game Review: Anthem

Anthem is a shared-world action RPG, where players can delve into a vast landscape teeming with amazing technology and forgotten treasures. This is a world where Freelancers are called upon to defeat savage beasts, ruthless marauders, and forces plotting to conquer humanity.

 

 

Anthem, the would be savior of bioware, the game that was going to compensate for letdown after letdown. The great equalizer, Is in reality, just another letdown from the once great Bioware.

 

Bioware is dead folks. It died when the founding doctors left it after Star Wars The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3 were released. To see proof of this look no further than the shitastic Anthem. I hate saying this because I had such high hopes for this game but it’s less of a game and more an example how not to make a looter shooter (hint, don’t use frostbite engine for one) and how to make a load screen simulator!

 

 

The very first thing that stands out about Anthem is how beautiful the game is. The second, is the insane amount of long load screens that should not exist in a game in 2019. Bioware code named Anthem: Dylan, after the singer in the hopes that Anthem would revolutionize the way we view games like Bob Dylan changed how we view music. They failed on this front like they have failed on so many aspects of Anthem. Need to change your loadout? LOAD SCREEN! Need to respawn? LOAD SCREEN! Spawn into a mission set to public? Get ready for three or four load screens back to back as the game teleports you to the rest of the group who are now half way through their mission. Oh, by the way, the missions take less time to complete than they do to load, and this is on a good pc with superfast broadband speeds and a fast storage device!

 

 

The game also suffers from invisible enemies and random frame rate drops on the best pc hardware you can get for gaming! (Did I mention I have an awesome pc?) The game is terribly optimized, using the frostbite engine which does not have the framework in place for basic looter shooter functionality, or real inventory. This is why we can not switch out equipped weapons in the field, contrary to that drivel Bioware fed us about it breaking game flow. They already broke that with abilities that have drastically different cool downs, which prevent you from doing combos more often, thus making the combo system feel clunky and broken, but man is it so nice to watch a swarm die to a combo!

 

 

On top of all of this the game’s main focus of loot is a broken mess with inscriptions (affixes to those familiar with Diablo) not working or not being relevant to the weapon or gear you have equipped. The loot grind is poorly executed at best with nothing really unique and only four different gun models in the game. Bioware has fortunately recognized this and are working towards fixes to make the loot system work better and are even removing common and uncommon items from the lvl 30 loot tables after listening to feedback given by diablo 3 veteran and main man behind itemization; Travis Day.

 

Remember that awesome E3 footage that showed the strider walking and then getting attacked and the freelancer receiving a legendary item? That was an entirely scripted and acted scenario that never once appears in the game. Walking striders and competing factions just sadly do not exist. It would have been a nice touch if such things could happen as showcased in that E3 video, but that’s how things work though in building hype for a game, we usually are never shown actual live gameplay but a scripted video instead.

 

 

The missions are a terrible repetition of two different types with little diversity. You have the defend the point against waves of enemies and collect items while killing enemies. That’s it, and while the actual gameplay can be fun it is confined to this weak and broken system that get rather boring quickly. Added to this list of terrible choices and things is the fact Anthem was meant to be a story driven experience but the great storytelling Bioware is known for just is not present! The story is generic at best with some cool events here and there, but with dialogue choices that ultimately lead nowhere and do not matter, and no memorable characters except for Owen. I will fight you on this, Owen is the best thing about Anthem!

 

 

That all being said, Anthem does have promise and potential if EA lets bioware have the chance to fix it. Pass this one up for now and check back in 4 to 6 months when they release new endgame content (or in a sale ~Lone) and have had a chance to update and fix what is broken, if they even can. Currently, endgame is just repeating the final story mission of the game over and over.

 

Right now, a dissapointing 1 out of 10 though.

~Darsch


March 9th, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, Multiplatform, PC, Playstation, Xbox | No Comments »

Reggie Fils-Aime to step down as Nintendo President, names Bowser as Successor


(This article begins with a dramatisation which is for comic purposes. The main news article begins after the line)

 

A conference room inside Nintendo of America’s offices. Redmond, Washington. February 21st, 2019.

 

Reggie Fils-Aime: Friends, investors, esteemed colleagues. I think we can all agree when I say that over the last decade, Nintendo has grown from strength to strength. We have seen record breaking sales from the Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch systems; and our moves into mobile gaming and film are beginning to also pay dividends. True, it hasn’t all been plain sailing (takes a picture down from the wall of a blue “U”); but one thing has never been lost: We are a company of individuals always moving forward and innovating with fun, dynamic new ideas.

(The entire boardroom cheers)

Reggie: …Which brings me to the point of today. After more than 15 notable years at Nintendo of America, and nearly 13 as your President and COO, I believe the time is now right for me to pass on the reins. I therefore wish to inform you that I will soon be stepping down from the chair.

(The entire boardroom gasps)

Reggie: I called this meeting today in order to name my successor. Step forward… Bowser!

(All heads turn towards the doorway as the door to the conference room swings open, The floor shakes audibly with each step as the spiky-shelled King of the Koopas steps in to the room)

 

 

Bowser: That’s RIGHT! I’m taking control of this Airship, and you all will bow to me from now on! For my first act, I demand a meeting with your precious poster child who has so often foiled my plans. Bring me Mario this instant!

Reggie: Not you, Bowser…

Bowser: WHAT?!?

 

A picture of Doug Bowser
Image courtesy LinkedIn

 

(From behind the large, intimidating Koopa, another man steps forward. As Reggie shakes the man’s hand, the entire room applauds)

Reggie: I of course was referring to our current Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Doug Bowser. Effective April 15th, I am officially promoting him to my now-former role as President of Nintendo of America.

Doug Bowser: It has been my great fortune to work with and be mentored by Reggie for four years at Nintendo of America … And rest assured, we will continue to build on his work to evolve and expand our brand, furthering Nintendo’s global mission of creating smiles. There are millions more of those to come.

Bowser: BAH!!! This pipsqueak is not even worthy of the Bowser name! (He storms out, as the rest of the boardroom congratulate Doug)

 


 

Yes, it’s official. After more than 15 notable years at Nintendo of America, and nearly 13 as its President and COO, Reggie Fils-Aime will retire. His successor, Doug Bowser, is an industry veteran who joined NOA in May 2015 as the Vice President of Sales before being promoted to Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing the next year – and now, starting April 15th, he will now hold the esteemed title of President of Nintendo of America.

 

While the name may not be familiar to everyone, Bowser’s business acumen is certainly powerful. Doug Bowser is an industry veteran who joined NOA in May 2015 as the Vice President of Sales before being promoted to Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing the next year. During his time at NOA, Bowser led the sales and marketing efforts for Nintendo Switch, which became the fastest-selling video game system of this hardware generation through 21 months, according to The NPD Group. Even before his time at Nintendo, Bowser has held major roles at Electronic Arts – where he last worked as Vice President of Global Business Planning.

 

In announcing his retirement, Fils-Aime said:

 

“Nintendo owns a part of my heart forever … It’s a part that is filled with gratitude – for the incredibly talented people I’ve worked with, for the opportunity to represent such a wonderful brand, and most of all, to feel like a member of the world’s most positive and enduring gamer community. As I look forward to departing in both good health and good humor, this is not ‘game over’ for me, but instead ‘leveling up’ to more time with my wife, family and friends.”

 

Responding to the news, Shuntaro Furukawa, President of Nintendo Co., Ltd, had this to say:

 

“I really appreciate everything Reggie has done for Nintendo. Inside and outside our company, Reggie is known as an exceptional leader. We are grateful that he is leaving the business in good shape with strong momentum. While we will miss him and we wish him the very best in his retirement, we are also pleased to have such an able successor ready to step into that role. Doug Bowser and the rest of the team will ensure a seamless transition and continued momentum for Nintendo.”

 

So long as this Bowser doesn’t share the famous Bowser’s fiery reputation, Nintendo of America should remain in safe hands.

 

Bowser, the King of Koopas, breathes fire
Image courtesy Super Mario Wiki


February 21st, 2019 by CrimsonShade
Posted in Gaming, General, Nintendo | No Comments »

#TBT PC Game Review :- Subnautica from Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Descend into the depths of an alien underwater world filled with wonder and peril. Craft equipment, pilot submarines and out-smart wildlife to explore lush coral reefs, volcanoes, cave systems, and more – all while trying to survive.

 

 

Recently I picked up the first person survival game; Subnautica (released Jan 2018 on STEAM, Dec 2018 on consoles), it looked like a fun game from the drunk play-through I watched and as I hadn’t played a solo game in a while, thought I would give it a try.  I should say that I have only just recently become a PC gamer and I have so much catching up to do that my computer is going to hurt by the end of the year with everything I have to cram in. Now I am a firm believer that a reviewer shouldn’t sway your opinion, because in the end we all have differences of opinion and that is good; or the world would be boring. So please, if you get a chance and you are into survival games, give it a go and make your own mind up, in my opinion this was a brilliant start to my PC gaming life!

 

The story, like any survival game, is pretty standard in that you are stranded alone to deal with the world around you. In this case you are on an ocean planet, light years from home with not one coffee place to help you deal with this. You were part of a team sent to setup a “phasegate” and to search for a missing ship that crashed on the planet. Because humans have to repeat courses of action before we figure out what is bad and what is good, your ship crash lands as well.

 

 

While scanning the planet, your ship “The Aurora” is hit by an unknown energy force from the surface and you escape in the only life pod that seems to have passed it’s maintenance checks as the others you find that haven’t done so well! I swear they could have spent less on interior decoration, (potted plants and posters advertising the ship to the crew of said ship,) and spent it on shields, better life pods or a less sarcastic AI. The wreckage of your once “advanced” ship lays on the horizon of this new world and you must save yourself through modern sci-fi technology, scavenging planetary resources, and retrieving tech that has spread far and wide across the ocean seabed. Can you do it?

 

In my case, yes I could and had a jolly good time too!

 

 

The gameplay style, apart from the first person free roaming aspect, is best described as a tech-tree you must grow and nourish with SO MUCH titanium and copper you wouldn’t believe; and who would have ever thought I would get fed up of finding gold and diamonds!? You also need blueprints found by scanning broken parts of equipment from the wreckage of the two crashed ships.

 

You start with basic tools for survival in the form of a Replica…I mean Fabricator which runs on the principle of “FEED ME SEYMOUR!” You cram large quantities of fish into it and get bottle water and food in return. Alloys and Scrapings of coral gives you a fire extinguisher, (for the moment when the ocean planet suddenly becomes a fire planet) and other bits and bobs to make your lonely stay a bit more bearable. As you progress through the tech tree you gain access to deeper regions of the planet and in turn, more resources to cram into the fabricator, which gives even better tools, to help you access even deeper regions.

 

 

There is also the crashed ships to explore, the lost habitats of the first ship to crash here and the presence of an intelligence that is not our own. I use the term ‘intelligence’ loosely because who parks up that close to an unknown planet where one ship has already vanished?! You can build submarines to explore deeper and further, discover habitats to survive in, and manufacture tools to do all kinds of funky stuff, as you explore the story as much or as little you want.

 

The story is read through data you find on PDA devices. These explain bit by bit what happened to the previous explorers to add to your immersion of the game if you so choose. In my case, I ignored the PDA and tried to figure out what happened through exploring the visual world and making my own mind up about stupid humans parking so close to planets with a history of vanished ships. Seriously with all that tech you couldn’t just send a probe? It didn’t ruin the game for me in any way and actually added to the experience. The story is light but being the only human alive, that is acceptable.

 

 

The game plays so well to the lone survival feel. There is no real tutorial and as you gain new equipment and vehicles you are never really shown how to pilot them. The immersion became so real for me that I imagined Ryley Robinson, (the protagonist you play) was part of the Domestic Crew (he mopped the corridors), as he seems to know little about anything he is building. As it turns out he is a Non-Essential Systems Maintenance Chief… so in actual fact the guy who gets to scrub out the engine while the real engineers are doing the real work!

 

I shouldn’t be too hard on him though, together we conquered Iantopia! From Giant Leviathan attacks to nearly drowning him when I found shiny stuff WAY to deep down for my air tanks, we spent hours of gameplay exploring and literally getting lost in such a huge world. It is a beautiful game that was well designed and blends a great mixture of breathtaking underwater beauty, scary oversized monsters nipping at your tiny self, and even comical little fish that smear across your submersible vehicles as you speed away from things trying to eat you.

 

 

I really felt for this planet and when I saw the damage the crashing ship had done to the area, I really believed I deserved all the giant predator fish chasing after me! Throw in the strange alien technology that looms out of the darkness as you float towards it, and you just can’t get enough of the visual. This becomes important when playing a solo game, as you take time to stop and look at these details.

 

The dark overtones are broken up by the various different AI personalities that live inside your own PDA unit and the machines you build. I got an overwhelming sense of pride when I got aboard my first Submarine and heard “Welcome aboard captain!” I had been promoted from Engine scrubber to captain and it only took me being marooned on a planet to get the position I always wanted! The main AI on your PDA reminds me much of Portal’s sense of humour. Whenever you discover a new place, device or vehicle, her voice chimes up to tell you something interesting about it, and the occasional witty banter added to my immersion.The unsettlingly human computer and the lack of other people made me wonder if Ryley was starting to lose it a bit and the computer was just him talking to himself in a robot voice.

 

 

Now no game is without its flaws and though I didn’t see many glitches, some of the ones I did see were game breaking. I left the first mini-sub I had ever made and cherished, to explore a deeper cavern system it couldn’t reach. When I got back it was inside a nearby wall. This meant I would have to start the game all over again because I couldn’t make it to the surface without dying. Console commands saved my play through but also gave me access to tempting cheats, and I lost some of that immersive feeling. I later found out one of the creatures had tried to teleport me out of my PRAWN suit and into its clutches, but instead teleported me outside the environment.

 

Most glitches are simple and often don’t ruin the game and sometimes played into my idea that Ryley was going mad. On another occasion I was walking down the access tunnel from a nuclear power plants to a fish display cabinet and though I didn’t think their proximity would be an issue, I witnessed a very odd fish, a giant eyeball with fins, swimming towards me! It was at this time I decided to go back to Earth and seek some professional help.

 

 

Those glitches came few and far between and once I got passed my frustration of the incident of HMS Nippy Shrimp and the wall, I got back into the game and was once again captivated by the beauty of it all.

 

It is possible to become lost and confused, where nothing makes sense and you are sure you missed a small detail somewhere. If this happens, I recommend checking the wiki out because it was very helpful and didn’t spoil anything waiting ahead for me. I had to use the wiki several times, but I feel that that was more a reflection of my ability as a player.

 

 

The game is left so open that you can play it anyway you like; valiant hero desperately trying to get home, scared engineer doing what he can to survive on little training or my Ryley, who was an engine room janitor who got super lucky. Once the game was complete, and I had put the finishing touches to my underwater resort (yes, I built an underwater resort!), I decided to craft my rocket and get back to Earth. I planned to start advertising and make a killing on the adventurous holiday maker who would love the dangerous Iantopia! But what then?

 

The game offers different modes and I originally played it on “easy”. If you just fancy a nice ride a sort of ultra-easy mode exists which helps you to learn how everything works in a safe environment. With endless resources at your disposal, all the blueprints unlocked and being immortal you don’t need to worry about anything other than learning to play the game! On Easy mode you are trying to survive but all you need to worry about is your health and your air, plus you now have to find everything to get you up and back into space. Hard mode introduces the need to eat and drink and though you can die you still re-spawn somewhere safe, minus the materials you just collected. If you want to feel like every moment could be your last then hardcore mode is for you! You get one life and no warnings about your air supply and I am leaving that for when I feel like giving myself a heart attack! This gives every level of player a nice entry point into the game though.

 

 

In addition, though there doesn’t seem to be a date of arrival, Subnautica, Below Zero adds another chapter to the game, which will bring a whole new element of tracking your heat, along with the original gameplay mechanics that made this game so much fun! Set in the polar icecap on the same planet, you now have frozen land masses to contend with, not to mention creepy penguins!

 

Subnautica deserves a go if you like Survival games, as it did feel like me against the world because it was! If you like building mechanics that allow you to construct your own living areas then at some point you can forget the story and escaping, and build yourself your own underwater resort with aquarium, two nuclear reactors and a medical bay set up for injuries sustained from handling dangerous fish and radiation burns. If you just like open world exploring then it is really easy to get lost in all the different areas of Subnautica as each place has its own particular wonder from the various planet life and it’s glowing auras to the beasties that lurk among them.

 

 

Now excuse me, I have to finish setting up the VIP apartments at my resort as they keep getting eaten by leviathans.

 

 

Subnautica is available now on STEAM, XBox One and Playstation 4!

 

A solid and fun 6 out of 10!
~ IanABlakeman

 

[Edited by Scarlet_Dragon]


January 31st, 2019 by IanABlakeman
Posted in Game Review, Gaming, General, Multiplatform, PC, Playstation, Real Time Strategy, Xbox | No Comments »

PC Game Review :- Sunless Skies from Failbetter Games

SAIL THE STARS. BETRAY YOUR QUEEN. MURDER A SUN. Sunless Skies is a Gothic Horror roleplay game with a focus on exploration and exquisite storytelling for PC, Mac and Linux.

 

 

Sunless Skies has released, and it has had some major updates since the early access preview here.

 

 

One of the very first things noticeably different is the new tutorial and story added at the very start of the game, which also highlights the new story UI.

 

 

Speaking of the UI, the whole thing in general has had an overhaul. It is now easier to read and lends itself better to the dark aesthetic of Sunless Skies.

 

 

New weapon types have been added, with two versions of each to choose from. First off there are the Portsmouth House ‘Albertine Candle’ and the Portsmouth House ‘Her Renewed Majesty’s Jubilee’ rockets, and then the Wit & Vinegar ‘Sneeze-Lurker’, Wit & Vinegar ‘Zounderkite’ mines respectively. Added to this is the powerful new exotic weapons added throughout the game just waiting to be discovered by the player.

 

 

New content has been added to the Blue Kingdom and High Wilderness, including some new officers the Clay Conductor and two Blue Kingdom officers; the Forged Companion and the Felined Eccentric.

The wealth ambition received some adjustments and your captain can now retire in Eleutheria, while Narrative Director Chris Gardiner worked on the final ambition The Stars are Dying for launch.

 

 

Part of the new content added was smuggling! It was one of the stretch goals on the Sunless Skies kickstarter and offers more opportunities for nefarious deeds in the high wilderness. Smuggling will unlock midgame for those captains looking to make some extra cash and don’t mind a dangerous pirate lifestyle. Just look for the Gloomy Middleman in London to start the storylet quest to unlock smuggling. Alternatively If your captain has Villainy 3+ or Veils 40+, the Gloomy Middleman will approach you directly. Once unlocked, Contraband items will appear in one shop per region across the Reach, Albion and Eleutheria. You will need to pay attention to Prospects to make a profit. Smuggling also adds hidden compartments for your locomotives equipment to hide contraband from customs.

 

 

Sunless Skies is available now on STEAM and GOG.

 

 

 

All and all these are welcome changes and additions to an already stellar game.

Sunless Skies is a must have title worthy of the coveted 10/10.

~Darsch


January 31st, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, Multiplatform, PC, Real Time Strategy | No Comments »

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