Yakuza 0 (First Impressions):

[This first impression contains spoilers]

I played about two hours of this game today. It was wacky and over the top in every way you’d expect of a Japanese melodrama. Yet, its core it had something I wasn’t expecting, a mafia story.

I haven’t played heaps of the game, in fact, I’ve barely scratched the surface. Yet the game very proudly tells me spraying stuff in people’s face while brawling somehow ‘sobers’ them up. Karaoke is a real rhythm mini-game. The combat is bombastic and fun. In fact, the combat in someways feel like a rhythm game of their own.

The voice acting, so far, is really good. It has just the right amount of dramatic yelling, filled with a good amount of pauses.

So far, I’m intrigued. Awesome!

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God of War: The Throwing Axe Simulator

[This review contains spoilers]

When I first started the game, I thought it was perfect. That feeling carried for the first 5 or so hours before cracks started to show. Enemies soon lost their initial feeling of variety, the word opens up, which can break the pacing of the game and the over the shoulder camera can get in the way, making you unable to readily see where attacks are coming from.

Yet that same camera provided the game with such a feeling of immersion, in someways it was worth the issues of combat, for just the feeling of intimacy that it provided to the game.

I really enjoyed the story, a man trying to atone and escape his sins. Trying to raise a son, and causing his illness, by denying the truth to him. I thought for the most part, it was very well done. Except for when ‘Boy’, also known as Atreus, starts to think he’s better than everyone else because he’s a God. I found it to be a moment of tonal whiplash that came out of nowhere, though its resolution was satisfactory. Why did he begin acting like that to begin with? It was rather out of personality.

The mythology of the world truly is what pulls you in, with Kratos interacting with these foreign Gods with a certain disdain. Mirir is truly a highlight, explaining the world around you in a truly organic way.

Kratos’ relationship with his son is also a strong aspect, he obviously loves his son, but doesn’t know how to express it. It’s touching watching him learn how to truly be a father. Also, with his wife’s death hanging over both their heads, it’s touching watching them both mourn her.

The gameplay is also fun. To me this game has good combat, but it can be repetitive. Despite that, it’s satisfying upgrading your character and son. Becoming stronger is noticeable and a welcome aspect to the game.

An easy criticism would be to say God of War is a ‘throwing axe simulator, also known as the land of invisible walls’. Yet that’s be simplifying it. Yes, a lot of the combat can just be throwing the axe, yes, the invisible walls can be immersion breaking, but these are small complaints.

The set-pieces in this game truly are breathtaking, the art direction creates a beautiful and fully realised world. I recommend this game to anyone.

Cliffhanger (1993) Review

[Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers.]

If any film lives up to its name, it’s this one. I can’t count the times people were literally hanging from cliffs, falling from cliffs, the tension from clinging to cliffs. There are a lot of cliffs in this movie.

I actually quite enjoyed this movie, it had me on edge.

Sylvester Stallone plays Gabe Walker, a man suffering from PTSD after a rescue went wrong. Later an eight month subtitle comes on screen, and in that same day he’s been tricked into helping international thieves. It’s either the money or his life.

Money that they lost, you guessed it, on a mountain, near many, many, cliffs.

The action surrounding this set piece was really good, and I did quite like the special effects.

Yet this film isn’t really what the trailer implies. It isn’t a non-stop action film, it’s much slower and deliberate. It’s a tension filled movie between some gun wielding maniacs and a group of rangers. There is some suspension of disbelief in this movie, you have to buy that Gabe has perfect memory and knows exactly where every case of money is.

That he can outsmart this world class villain. That he can not only struggle against, but survives the odds multiple times. That everyone dies, but our main heroes, and a woman that might as well be a damsel in distress.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I liked this film, I thought it was good, but don’t go into it expecting anything more than a beautifully shot, silly, thriller.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (2017) Review

[This review contains spoilers]

More of the same is best way to describe this expansion.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I liked Horizon Zero Dawn, I thought it was a good game, and I think this is a good expansion. What I liked most about it was the amount of content you get with it.

This is very similar to amount of extra content that Witch 3 and Oblivion gave you. Most modern games don’t go out of there way to give you this much content anymore. A lot of DLC is throwaway nowadays, so its nice to see something that really does feel like an expansion.

Now one of the biggest issue I had with The Frozen Wilds was the difficulty curb was too hard in my opinion. It also taught me something else, that once you play the ‘new game plus’ mode, you can’t change the difficulty, which is in a word: Bullshit.

It hampered my overall enjoyment, despite it being a well made game.

The Frozen Wilds really did make me appreciate one thing though, Horizon Zero Dawn was, and is, beautiful. The visuals are still stunning, even when compared to new game releases.

Another issue I had with the game is that it felt like a rehash, like they didn’t know what to do with the plot; so they just rinsed and repeated what they had before, which just came across as lazy to me.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s competently written, and there is nothing wrong with it. This game just could’ve been better.

I mean I liked the characters introduced, like Ourea, that worships an AI like a God, but somehow still befriends her. I always liked how Horizon handled these tribes people explanation of technology as something magical, it’s the contrast between the future and the primitive that’s just so interesting.

However outside that, don’t expect much, like I stated before it’s more of the same. While that isn’t bad, that isn’t a great thing either.

Demolition Man (1993) Review

[This review contains spoilers]

Fun is the definition of this film.

If you want cheesy one liners, a dumb plot, silliness with every breath. Then this is the film for you. It was exactly what I wanted from it.

Hell I even got more. It was surprisingly prescient, I mean, it obviously ripped off better Sci-Fi, with implants and the type of fascism that it entails. I liked that it mentioned thought provoking things like that. I mean there were people that were known as the ‘leftovers’ that lived underground. They resisted those that were both metaphorically and literally above them.

I loved that it wasn’t afraid to even mention how a utopia of peace, can be twisted.

Please keep in mind, this film isn’t deep. There isn’t a problem in this film that can’t be punched better, yet it is deceptively complex.

Is it okay to have peace when it’s against the law to have salt, or to swear? Where words like fuck are banned?

Where people make up dumb words to ‘curse’ appropriately within the law?

The underground people are literally starving, because they choose not to be apart of the ‘utopia’, but as a result have to fight for food. There is a social commentary there. Is freedom worth it?

Again, the film doesn’t ask too many hard questions, but the context of the film’s setting is surprisingly interesting and comedic.

The main character John Spartan (a great name) is played wonderfully straight by Sylvester Stallone. Yet Wesley Snipes is the real star of the film, he has the best delivery of perfectly cheesy dialogue. He added so much to what could’ve been a boring villain. He was charismatic, goofy, and just plain evil.

I mean, he stole guns from a museum.

If that doesn’t explain what kind of film this is, then this film definitely isn’t for you.

Atomic Blonde Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This film has pacing issues. The thriller aspect lack intrigue and explains so little that it isn’t always clear who’s on whose side. That wouldn’t be a problem if was well written and not boring during the slow moments. But it was and as a result became a bit confusing. Especially since you’re not always sure why everyone is dying for the list to begin with.

They say it has important information that will prolong the cold war, but you have no idea why that is. So it leaves the struggle for it rather lacklustre.

It’s a good thing that this isn’t the only aspect of the film otherwise it’d be incredibly dull.

The action saves this film. It’s face paced, brilliantly choreographed and shot very well. It’s a thrill to watch and keeps you on your toes. The fights are unrealistic, but if you wanted that you wouldn’t be watching this film. They’re also fabulously brutal. The only criticism I have is that the hits didn’t quite land. When a punch was thrown, sometimes they didn’t connect, and thus impact wasn’t felt.

It’s a small complaint, but I think it would’ve made the action that much more hard to watch; and all the more exciting.

I also liked that Lorraine (played by Charlize Theron) was properly bruised up. It made her feel real and that much more of a badass. Also her outfits were great, very stylish.

Charlize Theron also did some nice acting, very believable as cool heroine with a gun.

The ending was the one bit of strong writing in the whole film. When all the plot threads come together very neatly with some great plot twists.

The music was good and very 80s; however I felt like this film wasn’t as much of a time piece as it tried to be. People’s hair were too normal and the fashion was too toned down for that time period.

It’s also just a good looking film, with thoughtful composition and great lighting choices.

Overall this was a fun and intriguing movie. It’s ashame that it had those pacing issues, because it was very close to being better than it was. I liked it, and it’s a recommendation from me.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

I liked this film more than Wonder Woman. I thought it was funnier, tighter written and had more personality; yet afterwards I was left feeling empty.

I thought a lot of this film was well written, in particular the jokes. It got a good amount of chuckles out of me. It’s a movie with a smart mouth. However Peter was less goofy than the previous film with a lot of his personality lost in the process. Star-Lord and Gamora’s romance went basically nowhere, is was the weakest aspect of the film to me. Baby Groot was funny, but basically a gag character on the level of an animal in a Disney cartoon. Rocket didn’t have much of an ark, even if he was meant to have grown, it didn’t really show.

Then there’s Yondu, he’s supposed to be Peter’s father, even though the film admits he lead to many children’s death. He isn’t a good person, yet the film tries to play him off as sympathetic, he isn’t. He’s just a guy that happened to be good once. I don’t think that there can be any redemption in that, even if the film is pushing it with it’s flimsy attempt to be philosophical.

The only relationship I really bought was between Gamora and Nebula. They both were abused as children and as a result resented each other. They blamed the other for the crimes dealt to them by their father. That is incredibly human and very genuine. I liked that they looked past all that and became stronger as a result. It was the best part of the film for me.

Family is a strong theme in this movie, but other than the sisters relationship, it came across as rather superficial to me. I get that they’re a family, but other than a few points in the film, there was rarely a weight put behind those words.

Drax was the funniest character to me, a real improvement over the first film. The action was good with music accompanying them appropriately. It was very well done.

Go into this one without thinking too much and you’ll probably have a fun time.

Persona 5 Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This is the first Persona game I’ve played and I enjoyed it. I think that this is a good game that could’ve been great. It has some honest strong points, with great characters, a wonderful art style and fun turn-based combat.

Yet the main plot held it back for me. The god bullet was the largest deus ex machina. The plot twist was just strange, Igor (or his imposter) was a giant grail that was filled with people’s life source? Defeating a god was fun and dramatic, but the plot getting there toward the end was nonsensical.

The game basically ended twice. Both of them filled with too much exposition. There was also too much information that was repeated throughout the game. Maybe that’s fine if you play it over a couple of months, but marathoning the game just emphasises these faults. I don’t need hear the same information over and over again.

Also I felt the pacing was off, one second I’m in the largest dungeon ever, trying to bring truth to light of someone’s crimes; the next, I’m being a high schooler. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted. On one hand that’s great, it leave me wanting more; however I wasn’t prepared for the game to take away months from me toward the end.

So I never got to complete my romance, or fulfil all my confidant rankings. That was annoying and unfortunate.

Especially when I felt like that last twenty hours of the game just dragged for me.

Regardless, this is an over a hundred hour game, and I liked most of it.

I liked chilling with Ryuji, he’s brash but loveable. Yusuke is a stereotypical artist. Futaba is an adorable geek. All these characters are just wonderful. I loved getting to know them, and being their friend. I adored the message in this game about overcoming your hesitations and others expectations. How you are literally embodying the spirit of rebellion.

That’s a powerful message.

I also think it’s great that each major dungeon, or palace, is significant to the narrative. They acted as a stage for the characters to free themselves of doubt and fear. To be true to yourself and having the bravery to do that.

To reform society.

That’s another message I love about this game. That things can only be horrible if that’s all we expect them to be. That sometimes adults and authority have it wrong. That they can be dirty and corrupt. That we can as a society recover from that, by exposing the rot to the light.

That anywhere you go, there will be shitty people, but that doesn’t define us. Being complacent and letting it persist, that’s the true failure.

This game has a lot to love, with great dialogue options and good voice acting. An engaging plot, for the most part. It’s just a shame it’s not always consistent on the narrative front. Because I really did enjoy it.

I thought the dungeons were well designed. I like how gaining more confidant ranks impacted combat. I thought the art was just dripping with style throughout the whole game. I enjoyed the gameplay, it was strangely nostalgic whilst also mixing up the formula.

Is this a game for everyone? No, it’s too long to be for everyone, but it is a good game. An easy recommendation for JRPG fans, and something I think most gamers should at least consider.

Gunsmith Cats Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This OVA left me wanting more, and that’s praise that isn’t just tossed around. I loved it. It isn’t my favourite anime, but I could easily see it being someone else’s. The action was great, the humour always got a chuckle out of me and I was transfixed to the screen.

This story follows the unlikely duo Rally and May. Rally is reasonable and knows her way around a gun, whereas saying May was a bomb enthusiast would be a drastic understatement. They work well together and have strong chemistry. You can really tell they’re old friends.

Bill Collins is a nuisance of sorts, but the kind that’ll get you both in and out of a jam. He plays great off Rally with his wit and easy humour. He’s the ultimate leading guy.

The action is where this mini-series really shines. They’re isn’t one ounce of fat in this series. It’s just paced really well, with moments to breathe. It does stuff that I love about anime. You see the main characters talk about take-out, arguing about it, the way friends do. Anime can have small moments like that, without it being a waste of time. It’s about adding to the characters. Getting to know them, so that you care about them.

This is something that I think is missing from a lot of Hollywood films, at least coming out now. They don’t ponder on the quiet moments and let the plot breathe. Deadpool did, and I think that’s a fantastic film.

Radinov, a former KGB agent is a great villain. She really is a terminator, something she’s even called during the dub.

I really enjoyed the English version of this OVA. I thought the script was funny, the characters played off each other well. I thought it was well done, definitely recommended.

This is an anime for people that like slick, stylish action with attitude. Hell it even has a Psycho reference, which is cool in my book. Check it out if you like fun!

Baby Driver Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This film has a great sound track. I don’t normally talk about the music to a film because normally to me it’s just in the background adding to the ‘emotion’. This film actively makes you notice the tracks being played, from making Baby (the main character) lip-synced to the lyrics to the films action hitting (literally) all the same beats.

It’s excellently done and really sets this film apart from most.

The music is also implemented in a unique way with how it plays throughout the film. It’s either on a radio, or on Baby’s iPod. The music is used as a plot device, by Baby using it to block out the ringing he constantly has in his ears. It’s even great when he loses most of his hearing toward the end of the film, the audience experiences it too, by the soundtrack becoming more muted.

I liked that, it made for an almost interactive experience rarely given by most films.

The plot is fun, but it mainly stands as an action film with cars; and lots of driving. If you’re into The Fast and the Furious, Speed Racer or Redline (the anime), you’ll most likely find something enjoyable here. Keep in mind though, it’s also a Mafia, criminal type film. It’s about a young man getting caught in that sort of life and just wants a way out.

It’s also a romance film and it’s pretty well done. It won’t win any awards for the love story, but it’s nice.

No, this film really shines in it’s action. It seems to have an 80s aesthetic with it’s use of cassettes. Baby Driver lives on it’s great sound track. I’d recommend this film easily to anyone that likes fun.