Tag Archives: Batman

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice Review | Film

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

Superhero films have had a hard time growing up. For years they weren’t taken seriously in the industry or by the mainstream film audience since they were just silly little stories ‘just for kids’ or just a load of action with no substance.

Now, in 2016, it’s been 23 years since Batman first hit the big screen (34 years for Superman) – and six years since Marvel kicked the industry to new heights, and demanded attention, with Iron Man in 2008 – so you’d think that if any two superheroes could show how far we’d come, it would be Batman and Superman.

Unfortunately, this film does not complete that mission.

From the outset, there’s plenty to be excited about with this film, and really many of its elements work really well, it’s just the overall experience which doesn’t quite meet expectations.

Taking up the cape and cowl from Christian Bale as Batman is Ben Affleck, an actor (and accomplished director) who has had a difficult past with superhero films but restores faith quickly here by giving the audience a character they can genuinely sympathise with.

Batfleck isn’t rampaging the city as some sort of wish-fulfillment, but because he is adamant that Superman is a risk to humanity and must be stopped, following the destruction of much of Metropolis in Man of Steel.


Superman on the other hand (played by a permanently scowling Henry Cavill), is still trying to find his feet after taking up his cape, and is struggling to understand everyone’s resentment, fear and even worship of him.

In many ways, if the main cast had stopped there, the film might have felt more focused and effective, but since DC grows increasingly jealous of Marvel’s extended universe, it’s decided to kick-start it by throwing everything it has into this film.

Enter Wonder Woman, who is fantastically realised by Gal Gadot, and acts as an interesting element in Batman’s investigations before turning up for the film’s climax. As exciting a character as she is, and she leaves us wanting more, it’s difficult to say she is essential to telling this story.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of JusticeThe villain of the piece is Lex Luthor (Jr., which immediately feels like a bit of a cop out excuse to make the character more edgy and set him apart from his predecessors), played by Jesse Eisenberg. In many ways there are some interesting ideas being thrown around with Luthor, but in the end his manor doesn’t feel like it has enough darkness behind it, bringing up memories of Jim Carey’s The Riddler when it would have been more impactful to have the character turn in a heartbeat from slightly quirky to outright sinister and malicious.

Louis Lane seems to exist purely to flip between being a damsel in distress to an irritatingly stereotypical love interest, responsible for not only the film’s catalyst but a horribly underdeveloped love storyline with Clark Kent. Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is really the only member of the supporting cast who earns his place in the film, and feels tragically under-used.

The film’s strongest suit is the action and spectacle, which sees some expertly choreographed Batman fights in particular, and the titular battle between DC’s two mightiest heroes is worth waiting for – though its resolution is the somewhat anti-climactic and obvious realisation that both Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent’s mothers have the same first name…

The biggest indication of where the film goes off the rails, apart from struggling to make time to introduce new characters for The Justice League films, which ended up being more arbitrary than a huge distraction, is that the tone is all over the place.


Fundamentally, Batman and Superman don’t have vastly opposed philosophies as the film tries to make out, and jumping from Batman’s grit, to Superman’s inner turmoil, to Lex Luthor’s evil villain stereotyping just feels like it can’t decide what it wants to be.

What may have been stronger, is if the film had stuck with Batman’s perspective on events, which is set up extremely well at the beginning of the film, and followed that through, only revealing Superman’s side of the story when Batman learns about it, meaning the entire conflict had a grounded, specific set of eyes which the audience is supposed to see everything from.

While there is plenty this film didn’t quite get right, it is still definitely worth seeing, but if you are expecting a film to make you seriously rethink your love of The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy or Captain America: The Winter Soldier, then you needn’t worry.

Now the dawn of the justice league beckons, but not on the back of a film DC fans need, or deserve.

Rating: 3/5

Six exciting things from E3 2014 | Opinion | Gaming

E3 2014We’ve been going on about E3 for years (seriously, it’s our most rambled about subject…) but this year’s show was something different and exciting – it wasn’t a disappointment.

After the tough time Microsoft in particular had last year, the general air of positivity to come out of this year’s show is genuinely astonishing.

Seriously, game announcements were tumbling out of people’s mouths so quickly people’s eyes started to bleed from all the shiny new-ness…

And so what do we make of all of this? We make precisely six (totally not a random arbitrary number) things which we’ve decided to tell you a little bit about, in no particular order.

It’s like Crackdown on crack

CrackdownIt’s always nice to see a game resurrected from the dark corners of the past (OK, that may cease to be the case if they release an HD remake of phone game phenomenon Snake), and Crackdown brought a smile to many a gamer’s face when it exploded on screen – multiple times – at Microsoft’s conference.

The original game in the series proved a hit, but its sequel didn’t set the world on fire. Now MS are bringing it back, with the number three conspicuous by its absence and complete with the original voiceover announcer.

Destruction made up a big part of the game’s reveal, suggesting it could be a big part of the game, which could make reaching the highest buildings tricky, knowing how trigger happy the title makes you – here’s hoping the buildings respawn, or at least there’s something to bring them back, perhaps a weapon in the vein of Red Faction‘s nanoforge…

Lots and lots of Halo

Halo 5: GuardiansOver 100 maps. One hundred. That’s how many multiplayer battlegrounds are included with Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

It seems ungrateful to complain, but we’ve never been much of a fan of re-releases. The plus side is that not only is this a re-release done well, the first to make us sit up and take notice since the Gamecube remake of Resident Evil.

All multiplayer modes, vehicles and quirks of each iteration are included, with both Halo 1 and 2 benefiting from a visual clean-up, but the Halo series isn’t just about multiplayer, unlike other shooters we could mention.

The clever way in which 343 have pulled this together is impressive. The release not only includes a Halo 5: Guardians Beta (and a TV series produced by Alien king Ridley Scott), but serves to tool up the protagonist of the new game as they begin their quest to find Master Chief following the convoluted events of Halo 4.

It is your Destiny

DestinyThough Bungie, developers of Destiny, may always be remembered as the team who originally gave the world Halo, they are going to great lengths to set themselves apart from their past with this new title.

There might be a few visual and gameplay similarities, but the ambition drives the genre forward into new territory. There’s a strong emphasis on coop play, though it isn’t essential for most of the modes, as well large, expansive worlds and exploration.

It might not be far-flung from the heights reached by games in other genres (Skyrim is no doubt a frequent reference point), but this is the first time on console where an MMO – or Massively Multiplayer Online – title has really captured people’s imagination.

Defiance caused a stir with its own route into the world in 2013, but failed to have the staying power demanded by a lot of players. Destiny has got an awful lot packed in, and though we haven’t had our hands on it yet, everyone who has agrees it’s an experience difficult to put across in words.

WiiU may have been down, but it’s not out

Super Smash Brothers WiiUNintendo has had a rough time the past few years, and with the release of the WiiU failing to reach the benchmark set by the Wii they were left feeling like Metallica after their unfortunate 2003 album St. Anger, treading water with a sad look on their faces.

Unlike Metallica (who, coincidentally, took five years to hit back with another, better album), Nintendo didn’t let the bad publicity around the WiiU stop them from doing what they are good at – making games.

So finally this year we are seeing the fruits of those efforts with more Super Smash Brothers, more Zelda and the already very tempting Mario Kart 8.

Thanks to this strong first party showing, something Nintendo can be relied on when they get their act together and focus on their core franchises, they have shown that they aren’t worth forgetting about just yet.

Colour comes to next gen

Sunset OverdriveLet’s face it, there’s a trend in media these days across the board to be gritty, realistic, dark and suspenseful. Don’t we all miss how it used to be? A giant ‘pow’ for every Batman villain foiled? (scroll down for more of that)

Apparently, we do, and our prayers have been answered in the form of another Xbox exclusive (or Xclusive…) – Sunset Overdrive. The beginnings of this game last year were just as colourful sure, but now we’ve seen some actual gameplay, and it’s looking even more fun.

The E3 reveal trailer began by a nice bit of fun poking at the FPS genre in general, and the fourth wall-breaking protagonist is a refreshing change of tact from some of the other new protagonists shown off through the week.

Focusing on momentum, there’s wall running, rail grinding, and a crazy array of weapons to take down mutants in a game which, clearly, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and, in an industry which is supposed to be about entertainment, all too often that gets lost in translation.

The Dark Knight rises (sorry…)

Batman: Arkham KnightWe all knew Batman was back, and in fact it almost looked like a misfire out of the gate when it was revealed the game had slipped from the end of this year to next almost immediately.

Luckily, we have nothing to worry about with series heavyweights Rocksteady back at the helm for their conclusion to the series Arkham Knight.

Despite showing up in the Sony press conference, the game is also making its way to Xbox One (as is GTAV, not that Sony would appreciate me pointing that out), and is looking very very good.

The Batmobile sounded like a bit of a gimmick when it was first announced, but the gameplay videos shown off for the game show how slickly it compliments the gameplay (and, as if on purpose or something, here’s some gameplay).

So, there you have it, some stuff like what you should get excited about. Sadly it won’t all be with us in 2014, but there’s a fair chunk of good stuff on the way. Expect more game reviews and stories going forward (for Xbox One at least) and possibly some video reviews too, once we’ve worked out how to bully the computer into editing.

For now, run along and play.

The Lego Movie | Review | Film

The Lego MovieLego (never Legos…) was a big part of my childhood – as it turned out, this continued when I went to work for Legoland Windsor – but however hard I tried I was never good with following the instructions. One man who is great at following instructions though, is Emmet, star of The Lego Movie.

In many ways, the fact that this story is about and told in the medium of Lego, is irrelevant (you could have swapped them out for any creative toy you could imagine) as like all good films, it has characters that you care about.

Emmet isn’t special, something which the film continues to remind us within an inch of our lives, but he is likeable as a protagonist for our story. In a nutshell, the Lego city Emmet lives in is run on instructions and, as you can imagine, the result is a society which works very efficiently. Construction is uniform, everyone likes everyone, likes what they hear, likes what they watch – and it is incredibly dull.

Enter the Rebellion…ahem, I mean the Master Builders. These alternative thinkers literally remake the world for their own ends, seeing the world as a collection of bricks which can be rearranged into anything they can imagine.

Emmet does not have such powers, which cues an immediate familiarity with our hero for others who struggles trying to dig out that blue six-er from the bottom of the toy box that you really needed to complete this model of an X-wing.

Released right around half term in the UK, there’s no doubt that this film is primarily aimed at children, but really it can’t help but appeal to the child inside every would-be Master Builder (I know, I know, vomit away).

The Lego MovieBrushing all of that aside though, there is a good film left standing proudly in its own right. The jokes work pretty well, despite one plot point slightly relying on the fact that people are aware that Krazy Glue is a brand of superglue. Luckily the plot holds together (again…sorry) without this nugget of information and leads Emmet on an exciting adventure complete with more cameos than you could reasonably expect from any other film.

The voice cast is talented, particularly the A-listers hiding away in supporting roles. Morgan Freeman brings a surprising amount of humour and attitude to a role which could be a very typical mentor-type affair.

Batman, everyone’s favourite minifigure, is gifted with the most fun writing, playing off his recent incarnations on screen in a way which would be impossible to do in any other way than in Lego form. Will Ferrell is just as good as you might expect, but the gold really should go to Liam Neeson for his portrayal of Good Cop/Bad Cop. I was waiting for a Taken reference to pop up, but alas.

Emmet himself (Chris Pratt) is particularly well balanced, and never seems phoney or superficial as a character, something key to making the slightly bizarre storyline work.

The mishmash of other characters actually steer away from the stereotypes for the most part, offering a bit more oddness and character than they needed, and the film is all the better for it. A particular highlight is the slightly deranged Unikitty, ruler of Cloud Cuckoo Land – yup, seriously.

The Lego MovieIs this a film worth seeing then? Yes, but if you hate Lego it isn’t going to win you ever, if it ever could. Disregarding the interlocking brick system entirely the film performs more than adequately for a kids film and takes a solid step into serious film territory.

In all an experience perfect to enjoy for what it is. It might not change your life, but it can be that little reminder to take things a little less seriously that everyone needs from time to time.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry

Man of Steel | Review | Film

Man Of Steel 1A superhero story where the main character is practically invincible immediately leads to a conundrum – how can he lose? The answer, of course, is to put him in a situation where he (or she, this is the 21st century after all) is vulnerable.

It seems as if 2013 is the year Hollywood have realised this with Iron Man 3 in the recent past taking it back to his roots and The Wolverine on the horizon promising that when he’s most vulnerable…he’s most dangerous…


In between we have Superman, the original superhero, the all-American all star who stands for truth and justice and The American Way. Of course ‘The American Way’ is something quite different than what it was when the last Christopher Reeve donned the tights, and so the hero has changed as a result.

And so we have our reboot, grittier, more down-to-Earth and more relatable than ever before. If something like that sounds familiar, it’s because it happened a few years ago with DC Comics’ other killer franchise – Batman.

The plot follows Superman’s origins as he struggles through childhood into adulthood (led by Rusell Crowe as Jor-El and Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent), but this time around he barely gets into the grove before peril strikes.

Being smart business people, DC decided that the now legendary Christopher Nolan should be involved in kick-starting their other over-tired icon.

Nolan wasn’t keen to jump fully in bed with another potential trilogy so soon after The Dark Night though, and herein lies the first stumbling block of the film.

Despite being written by Nolan with oft-collaborator David S. Goyer, the film was, in the end, directed by Zack Snyder.

Snyder’s track record is troubled at best, from the heights of Watchmen and 300 to the unfocused mess of Sucker Punch, and in this – only his sixth film – the result is just as inconsistent.

Man Of Steel - General Zod
Kneel before Z….oh wait, that was the other guy.

In the action scenes, Snyder is in his element, and the plot takes a backseat as Supes tackles antagonist General Zod (Michael Shannon) at high speed and high CGI. In the slower moments, the film fights against the shakey cam and action scenes to stay grounded enough (literally) to connect with its audience.

One stand out scene sees Jonathan Kent sacrifice himself for his family, and its these rare moments which justify the films existence overall.

The action and drama are not un-inspiring, and the cast do a fantastic job of hanging everything together, but there are more than a few moments where the film tries to hard, and has a feeling of desperation to prove itself.

With an IP as widespread as Superman, it’s inevitable that there are comparisons. Is newcomer Henry Cavill better than 2006’s Brandon Roth? Or even the legendary Mr Reeve? Does Shannon match up to Terence Stamp’s Zod?

Quickly you find it doesn’t matter – this is a very different world. Although 2006’s Superman Returns was hardly a camp 80s affair, filming began before Batman Begins, and Batman Begins changed how people look at superhero films forever.

So, like Spider-man before it, Superman had a makeover and a harsh dose of reality, and it does him the world of good. Despite looking like a slightly more square-jawed Hugh Jackman when first introduced, Cavill does well to make the role his own and step out from the shadow of Reeve, something Routh chose not to do, and equally the rest of the principle cast follow suit to great effect.

The unexpected aspect of the film is that it isn’t really an origin story for Superman at all, in fact it’s the origin story for Clark Kent, beginning his journey as a reporter at The Daily Planet.

In the end, the film breaks through its shortcomings to exceed expectations and delivers an experience which is better than it had to be, but not quite as good as it could be.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry

Escapism vs Realism: What is Entertainment? | Film and Gaming | This Is Entertainment

Some people might insist that entertainment as an entity exists as a ‘way out’ from the stresses and hardships of everyday life, but why then do games and films so often strive to be ‘realistic’?

Surely if we just wanted to escape from reality (without turning to hallucinogenic substances), then the most attractive prospect would be to jump into something completely different from our everyday lives.

Take Super Mario for example. One of the quintessential platformers, there aren’t many of us who navigate pits of lava, turtles throwing hammers and flatten grumpy-looking, mushroom-shaped creatures on a daily basis.

Later Mario titles have arguably become even more unrealistic, adding talking fire extinguishers and intergalactic flight, and the titles sell in the hundreds of thousands. Perhaps this argument is a foregone conclusion then?

Not quite so simple in 2012. According to vgchartz.com, role-playing epic Diablo III takes the top spot, a clear point for the escapism camp, and three different Mario titles are in the top ten. On the other hand Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 remains at sixth and eighth on the multi-format global sales chart after a massive 39 weeks on sale.

MW3 is a game which seeks to immerse you into a world of guns, shooting and slow-motion breaching (before more shooting). While this isn’t the sort of thing the average person would get up to on a day to basis (we hope), it is presented in a highly detailed and ‘realistic’ way. From here it’s easy to begin to appreciate how blurred the lines between escapism and realism are.

In the first days of console gaming there was no chance of you mistaking Pac-Man for a real person just wandering down dark alleys looking for pills and trying to avoid his dealers – the poor guy was made up of about 12 pixels and didn’t have any legs – but now with the level of detail capable my modern technology you can very nearly almost be lured into thinking there really is such a thing as dragons from the likes of Skyrim.

In film too the harsh realities of the past decade or so have bled through into Hollywood’s presentation of much-loved characters. Batman successfully shed its campish past for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in 2005. British institution James Bond followed suit and underwent a gritty reboot the following year with Casino Royale. Spiderman too returned to his more ‘real’ comic book roots for Andrew Garfield’s turn as the webslinger only this year.

Clearly escapism for escapism’s sake still exists, exemplified by the mere existence of The Expendables 2, but the new normal seems to be geared towards giving consumers a dose of reality.

There is a flaw in this plan though – people don’t like it when things get too real.

There has been a lot of fan backlash from the reboot or Devil May Cry: DMC. Undoubtedly the ‘new look’ Dante is grounded in a much more ‘real’ universe, albeit with crazy demonic stuff going on. Many fans of the original games took objection to the re-imagining of the character of someone more grounded and supposedly relatable, while others were just averse to change in the first place.

Tomb Raider too has his the ‘realism’ button pretty hard and there has been plenty of discussion whether it is necessary or appropriate to tackle the issue of rape – even in the context of the development of the character.

Undeniably though, horrible things do happen, and for gaming and films to be taken seriously as artistic mediums, they have to tackle sensitive issues. Film has a clear head start, having delivered countless classics over the years revered as taboo-breakers and genre-definers.

With games, it’s more of an uphill struggle, since the medium already has a long way to go to be respected by fellow industries as more than just ‘something kids and teenagers do’, let alone by the public in general.

Could tackling ‘real’ issues help? Perhaps, but it’s only worth doing if that’s what gamers actually want, which brings us back to the debate in question.

Reality is huge, but imagination is limitless, so with nothing but technical stumbling blocks to hold developers and directors back, entertainment should be striving to push the boundaries and show us things we have never seen or experienced before.

Whether that is something relatable, intimate and personal or off-the-wall, crazy and just good fun is up to us. If we as the people enjoying these products don’t give things which are a bit different a chance, then there will be less chances taken by the big studios, and we’ll miss out on things like Inception on the big screen and Bulletstorm on the small.

In the end, escapism and realism aren’t as much at odds as you might assume from first glance, and there is certainly place for both in the entertainment world – it all depends on what you feel like.

James Michael Parry
YouTubery lovingly embedded from original source. Images courtesy: popchassid.com and setlol.com

The Dark Knight Rises | Film Review | This Is Entertainment

Hand-breakingly good actionWith its predecessor raking in critical acclaim from across the globe, not to mention two Oscars, the deck could not be stacked higher against The Dark Knight Rises. Quite amazing then, that the film generally manages to escape the shadows of previous films to hold its own and live up to its legacy.

Eight years have passed since Batman vanished after taking the blame for Harvey Dent/Two-Face’s killing spree at the climax of TDK and the years have not been kind. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne is a recluse, Wayne Enterprises has been hit hard and there is a storm coming – a storm led by build-like-a-tank supervillain Bane.

The Nolan incarnation of Bane is far removed from the hulkish giant found in Batman’s most tragic cinematic outing, Batman and Robin (which, interestingly, Bale was almost cast as Robin in). Bane circa 2012, played to perfection by Tom Hardy, is a calculating and brutal terrorist, intent on bringing Gotham to justice. Sounding familiar? That’s because justice was the driving force behind Ra’s Al Ghul’s assault on the city back in Batman Begins.

In fact the ties with Director Christopher Nolan’s first venture into Gotham City keep popping up, almost as if the franchise has gone full circle. Unfortunately it does mean that the continuity seems odd, as TDK now doesn’t quite fit as well with the other two, despite sharing most of its name with the latest film.

The returning cast is on fine form, with Bale, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman slotting in to their establish roles reliably. It’s Caine though that really pushes the envelope emotionally, with the most touchingly tearful speech of the trilogy.

Newcomer Anne Hathaway as cat burglar Selina Kyle, or Catwoman as she’s better known, is a delicious blend of deadly and sexy, instantly convincing as the opportunist thief making the best of a bad time in a bad town.

Bane does the Caped Crusader some damage.The other two new faces of note quickly give a suggestion of the film’s mind-bending edge, since they both feature in Nolan’s last blockbuster – 2010’s Inception. Marion Cotillard’s shrewd investor Miranda is the first suggestion that the business world of Gotham is bigger than just Bruce Wayne. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Gotham cop John Blake, who provides a new point of view as the audience follow for much of the film, as the characters we know change before our eyes.

Gary Oldman continues his Oscar-worthy turn as Commissioner Gordon. This time around Gordon is held back from the front line, forced to let youngsters like Blake take the lead. Oldman perfectly depicts the character’s mixture of frustration, as he struggles to stay in control of his city, and regret, at keeping the truth about Harvey Dent a secret.

The spectacle of this film is undoubtedly the greatest of the three, with the sound and cinematography reaching new heights, something particularly noticeable when viewed in IMAX. The film’s plot is a double-edged sword however, simultaneously too complex and too simplistic. Some characters aren’t given the time they deserve, and the lack of a central driving force like Heath Ledger’s Joker really tells, as the smaller plot lines conflict and fight for attention towards the final act.

Nolan went into this film to meet the challenge of making a compelling final instalment to a trilogy, something notoriously difficult to accomplish, and thanks to his passion and dedication as a director, succeeds in making a film up to the calibre of the other films, but falls short of surpassing them.

Rating: 4/5

pictures courtesy: breitbart.com

Gaming: Most anticipated Xbox 360 releases coming soon

So the long summer gaming drought beckons with the juicy releases held back until Christmas, or, in the case of Mass Effect 3, to next year (sob). No need to cry though, it just gives you more time to get excited about the exciting games which are coming sooner rather than later, here are This Is Entertainment‘s top picks…

Red Faction: ArmageddonRed Faction: ArmageddonReleased: 10 June
Premise: You are Darius Mason, grandson of the sledgehammer-wielding liberator of Mars Alec Mason, a man who has none of the wealth power and fame you might expect from his ancestry. The year is 2170, and the surface of Mars has become uninhabitable and driven its inhabitants underground. Unfortunately, having moved below they soon discovering there is another threat on Mars, an ancient race of Martian aliens which Darius uncovers and quickly spread through the settlements.

What’s in the box?: As well as the single player campaign, which is reportedly more focused and linear compared to the game’s predecessor, Guerilla, there is a cooperative multiplayer mode, which sees you protecting structures from the alien masses and destroying them in increasingly ridiculous amounts with the games diverse weaponry. Oh…plus the most detailed destruction engine gaming has to offer, nuff said.

Why should I be excited?: THQ seem to have taken criticism of the previous game on board and put some effort into writing a story for this chapter. Darius seems suitably tooled with a bit of sarcasm to counteract the hopelessness of his situation and every other aspect of the game has been tooled up, the walkers,  for example, are far beefier and better equipped than before. Best of all is a great bit of original weaponry called the Magnet Gun, which fires in two shots and then attracts the two points together, with some seriously destructive and hilarious results. If you fancy a go yourself, there’s a demo up on Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

Deus Ex: Human RevolutionDeus Ex: Human RevolutionReleased: 26 August
Premise: You are Adam Jensen, a private security officer with Sarif Industries, until he suffers a horrific accident and is implanted with biomechanical augmentations. Essentially he’s a Six Million Dollar Man figure, and as you progress you slowly gain control of more of these augmentations, depending on how you play the game. There are four main avenues: Combat, Stealth, Technology and Social, each has its own play style, which are fairly self-explanatory. The game is a prequel to the founding game of the series, Deus Ex, which was released back in 2000.

What’s in the box?: Being a single player-only game, there’s a lot of depth in the story and range of different ways to complete each area or mission, depending on your augmentations. For example you might like to blaze through the game killing everyone in a balls-out display of Matrix-like skills, or you might want to sneak about and charm your way past your would-be attackers with your silver tongue. Expect plenty of collectables, unlockables and endless playthroughs necessaries to exhaust all possibilities of how the story will unfold, though the overreaching story will remain the same, and lead into the events of the original Deus Ex.

Why should I be excited?: The original game was heralded as unbelievably fantastically amazing for its time, and this sequel has been worked on meticulously since 2007. The visual style from the screenshots and trailers looks fantastic, constantly referred to as ‘steampunk’, but think of the Matrix and you’re 3/4 there. The enemy AI is also something which the series is famous for, and will react to how you play precisely, meaning every player will have a unique challenge.

Gears of War 3Gears of War 3Released 20 September
Premise: You are Marcus Fenix (and co) in the third in the series of this head-stomping chainsaw-swinging shoot-a-thon, in which Marcus has to save his world from the combined threat of the Locust and their mutated brothers the Lambent. Eighteen months have passed since the fall of Jacinto at the end of the last game and the survivors are stranded on an island, frankly so far Marcus and the COGS have done pretty badly at putting a stop to these pesky Locust creatures.

What’s in the box?: King of the Gears (in the real world) Cliff Blezinski has said that there is a real focus on multiplayer this time around, which explains the inclusion of four player cooperative play in the campaign (though really this was an obvious step). On top of this new features wise we have a mechanised suit, as if the Gears needed to get any more beefy, and also female members of the unit make an appearance for the first time. Add in new enemies and modes and you’ve got yourself a whole lot of trouble on your hands.

Why should I be excited?: As if the return of John “Bender from Futurama” DiMaggio to provide Marcus Fenix’s voice, there is also a new weapon specifically designed to even up the multiplayer – the sawed-off shotgun. Hardly the most ingenius of weapons, but it does offer a near instant kill at point blank range, meaning people could well be constantly running at you flailing wildly, but the point is it should give newcomers a chance. Also there is a digger launcher, which fires a projectile through the floor and under cover, meaning those who hide in cover continually are no longer safe!

Arkham CityBatman: Arkham CityReleased: 21 October
Premise: You are Batman! After Arkahm Asylum was freed from the Joker and Poison Ivy’s clutches in the first game, the Warden took all the credit for your hard work and expanded the Asylum from Arkham island to create a criminal-filled suburb of the city, walled off from the rest of Gotham, And to top it all off, Doctor Hugo Strange has discovered that your secret identity is Bruce Wayne…

What’s in the box?: Sticking with single player, expect more impressive visuals from the guys at Rocksteady. There will be more stealth and action and villains aplenty with Harley Quinn, Riddler and Joker returning, while Hugo Strange, Victor Zsasz and Calendar Man will also appear, the latter doing different things depending on the literal calendar year. There’s been work done on the combat so that things are less repetitive and there will be more of a gang element to the enemies.

Why should I be excited?: Other than the prospect of being Batman again and how awesome that is. Rocksteady have also augmented (there’s a lot of it going around…) their fantastic Detective Mode into the main display, to avoid people playing through having to turn it on and off all the time, and you can also use gadgets like the batclaw in the middle of fights, which should mix things up with quite amusing results. Also the setting of Arkham City is far larger than the Asylum and is all available to explore from the outset, and you can do it even more easily now that Bats can dive mid-glide and then fly back up to gain height and fly further.

Child of EdenOne to watch – Child Of Eden
This music/brightly coloured/drug trip game from the creators of the genuinely ground-breaking Rez has to be seen to be even slightly explained:

James Michael Parry

Gaming: Spike Video Game Awards Top Picks

Finish the fight...?For those in the know the news is out: Eldar Scrolls V and Mass Effect 3 teaser trailers have both been unleashed on the gaming world, but for everyone else thinking “What on Earth are the Spike VGAs?” and “Why didn’t anyone tell me something was going on?” Here’s a micro-explanation.

The Spike VGAs have been going on for a few years now, they tend to attract a lot of big Hollywood names and the associated glamour, with some previews for upcoming titles thrown in just to keep the gaming part of the name happy.

In the past the Awards have seen  a few unveilings and announcements such as  The Force Unleashed II and Arkham Asylum 2 – Arkham City last year (but more on that later).

There’s plenty of criticism for the awards since they have a lot of live music acts and celebrities and really play into the big franchises borrowed from other genres, but they do occasionally bring some exciting news-bites…which is what we were graced with this year.

On the Sci-fi side of the argument lies a little game called Mass Effect 3:

Earth finally comes into play, not as a dot to orbit around but a battlefield, and things look serious. There’s debate at present whether BioWare will opt for a continuation of Mass Effect 2’s more upbeat action style, slide back towards a more diverse RPG game or progress to something new entirely, since there has been much talk of a spin-off game.

The trailer shows the Reapers decimating Earth, clearly something has to be done but how will the game work? Will you be traversing continents now instead of galaxies? Being Earth-bound might be hard to swallow for some players, though the game has been screaming out for some perspective since it’s inception.

Next up is the return of the Caped Crusader:


So the Joker is nowhere to be seen in this trailer, though we know he’s around from the teaser a while ago, but instead we are greeted by Doctor Hugo Strange, who is keeping an eye on the inmates for new Mayor Quincy Sharp – who has taken credit for all your efforts in stopping the Joker in the first game.

The visuals are particularly impressive, though obviously it isn’t in-game footage, and the same brutality as before along with a host of new gadgets and bits and bobs should make this a tremendous game.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the big news for fantasy RPG fans. Take a look at the teaser trailer:

So there isn’t much to go on as of yet, but clearly the game continues the story on after Oblivion and involves dragons. Any fans of Bathesda or previous Elder Scrolls outings will most likely be salavating even though the release is almost a year away, on 11 Novermber next year.

Finally Portal 2 made an appearance:

A real ‘tease’ with this one, Valve are bound to produce a great game, particularly the co-op aspect, but this footage doesn’t really tell us anything about the same, except that it has Valve’s usual sense of humour. Definitely one to watch.


James Michael Parry

Film: Review – Inception

‘Inception’ means ‘beginning’, ‘start’ or ‘commencement’, but that doesn’t shed much light on what Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is all about.
Even if you did read my previous post about Nolan and Inception, little can prepare you for combination of simplicity and complexity of the film itself.
In the film, ‘inception’ is not just the beginning of something, but the principle of planting an idea in someone’s head. The way this is done is through dreams, using the subconscious to control the conscious, which involves connecting people together with a strange briefcase-shaped device which means several people can experience the same dream simultaneously.
The principle which you have to bear in mind watching the film is that dreams always seem real when you’re having them, as DiCaprio’s character Cobb says: “It’s only when we wake up that we realise anything is strange.”
Nolan, who also wrote the film, has never been someone who has embraced CGI in films before, generally adopting a very personal approach to directing, never taking a second unit and often doing shots with a hand-held camera. In Inception though, it’s impossible to avoid, since the story and concepts involved require so much which is not physically possible.
It would be a mistake to think that Nolan has ‘sold out’ with this picture though, since it’s an idea he’s been working on for many years, and it is certainly worth the wait.
The reputation of the director, who also directed The Dark Knight the trailers are keen to tell us, means Nolan is graced with a fantastic cast to sell his story.
DiCaprio, fresh from another deep emotional performance in Martin Scorcese’s Shutter Island, shows us how far he has come from his boyish charms evident in the likes of Titanic and Romeo & Juliet, delivering a gripping portrayal of a character which the audience latch on to and follow through the film, something which is integral to its success.
Ellen Page, of Juno Fame, also delivers convincingly as Ariadne, despite being the token ‘young person’, as does Cillian Murphy as Robert Fischer Jr., who is the victim of the film’s convoluted heist, despite not realising it.
Brit acting legend Michael Caine, in his fourth film with Christopher Nolan, is on wise old mentor duty once again, without his usual comic relief moments, and in fact its Tom Hardy of Layer Cake as Eames who shines in the comedy stakes.
To go in to the story too much would spoil or confuse things, but the film itself is a triumph of Nolan’s skill as a director and passion for story-telling. Those looking for the excitement, action and explosions of The Dark Knight won’t be disappointed, as the film’s climax providing the most nail-biting finale of Nolan’s work to date.
What is more important to the film though is that you’re constantly asking yourself what is real and what’s a dream, which is exactly the question Cobb is constantly dealing with, making you feel quite unnerved at times, but still exhilarated.
Inception is a film which binds genres together seamlessly, going from a heist movie one moment to a tense thriller the next, with some gravity-defying action thrown in for good measure. It must be seen to be believed.
Rating: 5/5