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Movie Review: The Shape Of Water

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

 

 

What do you get when you take a fantasy adventure and set it in a real historical war, combining childlike fairytale with the horrors of man? Well you get Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, but if you swap the fantasy adventure with fantasy romance and replace the brutality of the Spanish Civil war with the more behind closed doors but still brutal Russian/American cold war and you have Guillermo’s latest film The Shape of Water.

 

The basic plot of the film follows Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute lady who works as a cleaner in a secret American facility where they conduct various experiments one of which happens to be research on an aquatic humanoid creature that the Americans captured from the Amazon, the chief security officer Mr. Strickland (Michael Shannon) believes the creature to be not more than a dumb animal but our heroine establishes a bond with the creature and finds comfort in its company.

 

 

As prolific as he is, Guillermo Del Toro once again proves that is an able director and a creative story writer with a solid understanding of the visual language of film, the sets are believable but lively, the camera shots fluid and varied which brings a certain amount of life to the picture that the standard shot, reverse shot used in a lot of other films.

 

Guillermo also shows that he knows the right people to work with the cast being lead by Sally Hawkins playing the mute lead in an incredibly expressive performance, along with antagonist Mr. Strickland brought to life in a menacing portrayal by Michael Shannon and then rounded out with acclaimed actress Octavia Spencer as one of the leads best friends, Richard Jenkins playing the other and Michael Stuhlbarg as a scientist with a conscience and a secret, special attention must be made to Doug Jones, former contortionist, current hit with Star Trek fans (as the Kelpien, Saru on Star Trek: Discovery) and Del Toro mainstay as the actor who brings the aquatic creature to life (with some of the creatures sounds actually supplied by Del Toro himself), but beyond actors Del Toro also works with an amazing crew with everything from the costumes and the sets to the sound design being handled flawlessly.

 

 

WIth the film combining such disparate elements there was always a risk that it would feel disjointed flitting back and forth between fairytale romance, monster movie and cold war espionage however the film handles all of these elements seamlessly alongside an equally versatile score by Alexandre Desplat.

 

In short this film is another fantastic entry into the works of Del Toro and well worth seeing, however do be warned that the film is no intended for children due to the adult elements including nudity, curse words and a few violent/gross scenes not for the faint of heart.

 

 

The Shape of Water keeps Del Toro’s worth watching list growing with a solid 8.5/10

 

Check out the trailer below if you haven’t seen it already!


February 13th, 2018 by TGB_SirhcAndAr0n
Posted in General, Movie Review |

Multiplatform Review: Steamworld Heist (STEAM & Nintendo Switch versions)

First released on STEAM in June 2016, but recently released on Nintendo Switch, takes a look at a great game, out on a new platform  ~Lone

 

Command a steam-driven pirate crew in a series of epic tactical shootouts. Inspired by classics like XCOM and Worms, SteamWorld Heist is turn-based strategy with a twist: You manually aim the guns of your robots, allowing for insane skill shots and bullet-bouncing action!

 

 

Steamworld Heist is the third game in the Steamworld franchise created by Swedish indie developers Image & Form, set in what appears to be the same universe still populated with a cast of colorful steam powered robots but this time with a new set of characters and a new style of game play, Heist being a blend of turn based strategy and skill based 2D shooting.

 

The story of Steamworld Heist follows Captain Piper Faraday, a smuggler and occasional pirate who is rebuilding her crew in order to collect as much swag (gallons of water) as possible and maybe make the universe a safer place, as long as it doesn’t interfere with her livelihood of course. Faraday begins her journey on an enemy ship where something went terribly wrong and she ended up alone, but you soon meet up with another crew member, the surly Seabrass, during the tutorial.

 

 

Upon completion of the tutorial you are introduced to the main ship which acts as a sort of hub between levels where you can relax, chat with the crew you have found/enlisted so far, and check your items/crew/skills at your leisure, then it’s off to the map to select a level or store to visit.

 

Levels in Steamworld Heist are largely procedurally generated so the ship layout will change each time, but the objective remains the same, whether that is collect x amount of swag, defeat x amount of scavengers etc., normally procedural generation in a game is a bit of a gripe of mine because although the programming can create a seemingly endless amount of level designs there are certain limitations in that some parts will always need to connect or things come out looking unnatural or boring, but during my time with Steamworld Heist I did not experience this and I played through levels a few times trying to get the maximum reputation stars (generally 3 a level) and level up some new crew members and I believe the reason why the procedural generation didn’t get to me is because the core gameplay is so well thought out and the implementation is near perfect.

 

 

Gameplay consists of a simple squad turn based movement and attack/skill or item round followed by enemies (if there are any) turn and then repeat until one side is destroyed and if you are skillful enough to make sure the other team is the one destroyed you can then explore the ship and collect the swag however you will be restricted to the same movement limitation regardless of enemy robots left, meaning that if your character has 6 movement points (as most of the starting ones do) you can move 6 spaces and attack or you can move a few extra spaces (referred in game as “sprinting”) and give up your chance to attack to cover more ground which can be handy if you want to move your character into cover or if you’re making a mad dash for the exit (killing enemies doesn’t give you anything extra so unless it is the objective it’s generally optional), now the attacking is where things get really interesting.

 

 

Attacks in the game are largely ranged and the exact type will be determined on the character class (unchangeable) and the weapon they have equipped (a little more versatile but linked to the classes as well), the characters at least during my playtime all used guns as their primary weapon (swapping to a melee attack when enemies are one space away) and these guns range from a scoped pistol to a shotgun all the way to a grenade launcher, each one handles differently and is useful in certain situations but by far my prefered weapons were the scoped ones, the scopes in the game come paired with laser sights so you can see the trajectory your bullet will take before you fire allowing you to set up some very satisfying ricochet trickshots, the ricochets work with the other weapons as well but without the laser sight they require a keen eye and some patience to pull off the same kind of shots.

 

 

The game is refreshing in that it really is set up to reward skill over luck, every situation I was able to overcome with a well placed shot or a tactical retreat, sometimes losing an ally along the way but their scrap is returned to your ship so they can be rebuilt to fight another day, the only penalty being that the destroyed robot doesn’t take their share of experience but you can always take them back to the level or even to an easier one to harvest some experience, get a few level ups and come back with a more powerful and tactical team and as you are the one that aims the gun and the set up is turn based you really do have the time to plan your attack and pull off some spectacular shots, maybe aiming for the head for a (by default) 50% chance of a critical hit or taking out their legs to stop them from being able to move, or even if you are so inclined firing a shot at their hat to knock it off their head and (assuming you don’t already have it) picking it up and taking it for your own.

 

 

In summation I had a wonderful time with Steamworld Heist, the characters are cartoony, cliched and simplistic which fits right alongside the strong undercurrent of humour throughout the game, the graphics are polished and wonderful to look at, the music (by steampunk band Steam Powered Giraffe) is fitting and great to listen to and there is something so satisfying of bouncing a bullet off two walls and getting a headshot destroying a robot who was hiding behind cover, the levels are short but action packed and I feel like I will be spending quite a while enjoying my time there, if you like well paced turn based tactical games and/or impressive snooker trick shots then you could do much worse than checking out Steamworld Heist for yourself.

 

Steamworld heist gets a steampunk 9/10 from us!

 

SteamWorld Heist: Ultimate Edition, including all previously released DLC, is out now on Nintendo Switch for $19.99 / €19.99 or the equivalent.

The standard edition is available for $14.99 / €14.99 on Steam, PS4/PS Vita, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.

A mobile version for iPhone and iPad is yours for $9.99.

 

Check out the trailer below


February 12th, 2018 by TGB_SirhcAndAr0n
Posted in Gaming, General, Multiplatform, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Xbox |

Relic Pulls Plug On Dawn Of War 3 Development

Developer Relic Entertainment has pulled resources from Dawn of War 3, in order to dedicate them to other projects.

 

 

The move effectively freezes the Warhammer 40,000-universe RTS/MOBA hybrid as it is now. In a statement to Eurogamer, Relic Entertainment said: “While Dawn of War 3 has a dedicated player base, it didn’t hit the targets we were expecting at launch, and it hasn’t performed the way we had hoped since. When a game underperforms, plans need to change. With Dawn of War 3, we simply don’t have the foundation we need to produce major content. We’re working in close partnership with Sega and Games Workshop to determine the best course of action, while shifting focus to other projects within our portfolio.”

 

While that statement stops far short of saying that Relic is abandoning Dawn of War 3, it’s clear that will not be any further races, or indeed content of any sort added to the game. Dawn of War 3 may have been the victim of falling between two stools, with existing Dawn of War fans put off by its MOBA elements, and those MOBA elements failing to appeal to new players.

 

But the move at least allows Relic Entertainment to dedicate further resources to the new Age of Empires game it is developing for Microsoft.

 

It is a real shame though, I personally really enjoyed Dawn of War 3 and you can check out my gameplay at release last year below

You can also find Dawn of War 3 on STEAM here – http://store.steampowered.com/app/285190/Warhammer_40000_Dawn_of_War_III/


February 8th, 2018 by Lonesamurai
Posted in Gaming, General, PC, Real Time Strategy |

RETRO REVIEW: Might and Magic® 6

From the deepest dungeons to the intrigues of the royal court, lead a band of adventurers on a dangerous journey of amazing depth and intelligence. Develop your characters through an unique skill point system and take part in an epic clash between the Ancients. Gather your forces, forge new allegiances and destroy all who oppose you. The fate of the world is in your hands!

 

 

Might and Magic 6 is part of one of the oldest, and in this writer’s opinion, best RPG series available; minus one or two of the later games in the series. The game itself was released in 1998, and so is definitely not a game most people would have played. The series was created by the now defunct studio, New World Computing, and was published by 3DO, before being sold to Ubisoft.

 

Might and Magic 6 is the first game in the series to use a 3D engine, although this is only really used to create the environment and make it a semi open world, with 2D sprites used as the NPCs. Although this has the advantage of the NPCs having a lot more detail compared to just regular 3D models of the time; compared to more modern games, it hasn’t aged well graphically, but has aged much better than other games released around the same time. This is mostly due to the aforementioned implementation of sprites instead of 3D models, but the game was never really played for the graphics, more for the story and gameplay.

 

 

The world the game is based in is called Enroth, and is set several years after an invasion of alien demons following a war with another race called The Ancients. During an attack by the demons, the player party is transported by a warlock to prevent them from being killed and to save the world.

 

Enroth is split into 12 different zones, which have many different types of enemies, ranging from Goblins and Mages in the starting areas, to Minotaurs and Hydras in the later areas. There is also at least one dungeon in each area related to a quest, and except for one or two, are not locked to the players. If you’re not strong enough for the dungeon, it will be impossible to complete them without leveling up.

 

 

Each NPC can be spoken to around the game world to provide some backstory or even an extra follower, for the right price. The conversations, while one sided, can provide a lot of information, depending on the purpose of the NPC, with quest givers providing a huge amount of backstory. All NPCs wandering around the world can be killed, but if you’re at a lower level this can badly backfire, so murder at your own risk.

 

Both enemies and NPCs respawn after a set amount of ingame time, ranging from a few months to a couple years depending on the area. This doesn’t just affect the world map but also the dungeons in each area, so they can be cleared out again for the extra xp.

 

 

The party, unlike some RPGs, is only made up of a single race, but there are a choice of 6 classes which affect the skills of the characters. During creation, there a number of shared skill points which can be used to increase the usual stats associated with RPGs, such as might, accuracy etc, making changes easy to determine. Each attribute and skill also has a hover description which provides useful information. The classes are easily recognisable, with 3 magic based, and 3 physical based, with each class only able to use certain skills from the pool, but each class isn’t too restricted to what they can choose to do with the skills.

 

The magic system is based on a points system, with the points increasing as the characters level up, as well as with a skill called Meditation, which increases the pool based on the amount of points in the skill. Health works the same way, but the skill to increase the number of points is called Bodybuilding.

 

 

The main story is a long quest series which can be completed as and when the player wants, along with numerous sides quests, which as mentioned previously, are set in the dungeons found throughout the land. The main story revolves around the demons discovered in the later game. During each quest, several objects of note may be found that provide more backstory, or even solutions to quest puzzles. An interesting feature is the quests don’t have markers pointing out where to go and what to grab; the complete opposite of what most modern games do: hand holding and spoon feeding every detail needed to complete the game.

 

The combat is kind of unique in how it can be approached. Most of the game is in real time, and so combat will be too, but the game allows you to go into turn based mode, with the priority of which character gets to act first based upon their speed attribute. It is worth remembering that the enemies are also affected by this. In the later games the turn based option wasn’t fully implemented as you are unable to move between rounds, but the monsters could.

 

I have played this game probably between 10 and 20 times over the years with varying degrees of completion, depending on what was happening in my life, but along with a handful of other games, this is one I always come back to, at least once a year.

 

Overall the game is as good in terms of gameplay as it used to be, even if graphically it hasn’t aged well. If you like RPGs, give this game, as well as the series, at least one play through, to see how games from the 90’s were made compared to how they are now, especially regarding the quests and storytelling.

 

Might and Magic® 6 is available from GOG.com over at https://www.gog.com/game/might_and_magic_6_limited_edition


February 7th, 2018 by GreatSnowman
Posted in Gaming, General, PC |

Rockstar Announce Official Release Date For Red Dead Redemption 2.

Hold onto your saddles and revolvers, it’s finally happened!!

 

 

As of almost one hour ago of writing, Rockstar Games officially announced Red Dead Redemption 2 has got its release date. And that date, is October 26th 2018.

 

Yes it is a while away and definitely misses the projected Q1/Q2 release originally stated by Rockstar, but hopefully the game will be worth the extended wait. The announcement has been met of course with mixed reactions. Some people are just excited the game has a date, while others are not so excited. Since Rockstar made the announcement, it has been met with a backlash of comments including “Why the delay again?” and “All I can say is, Delayed again? WTF”

 

 

While developers sometimes do this on purpose to further hype a game before release, Rockstar have a very valid reason for the delays. Red Dead Redemption 2 is the studio’s first true Next Gen (Xbox One/PS4) title, and will want to make sure the game is near enough perfectly polished for the waiting fans. Some may argue that Grand Theft Auto 5/Online is a next gen title, however this is only half true. Grand Theft Auto 5/Online on Xbox One And PS4 was only a port over with improved graphics. In simple terms, a copy and paste of the original release, although Next Gen versions continue to receive expansion packs where as previous gen versions last update, was the original Heists update in 2015.

 

 

I for one, will be waiting with anticipation to see what Rockstar have done with the game and how it will turn out, and looking forward to once again roaming the wild west of the USA.

 

 

You can Preorder Red Dead Redemption 2 over at Rockstars site

 

 


February 1st, 2018 by HeavyMetlBrian
Posted in Gaming, General, PC, Playstation, Xbox |

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