|Posted by Admin on July 4, 2014 at 4:35 AM|
“Game of Thrones” spends a great deal of time showing us how the harsh conditions of Westeros and Essos age people before their time. Childhood does not protect girls from being sexually abused, or boys from being castrated as part of the process that turns them into slaves. Adulthood, and the responsibilities that come with it, arrive early for those placed on thrones or shipped off to service in the icy prison that is the Wall.
“The Watchers on the Wall” was at its best when it made a different point: that for all the hardening experiences the young men at the Wall have been through, they retain some of the boyishness of their former lives. It was at its worst when the show served up a reminder that while David Benioff and Dan Weiss relish presenting us with the physical violence of Westeros, they sometimes shy away from the emotional violence that makes George R.R. Martin’s novels so striking.
The men of the Night’s Watch are all so young, in so many different ways. Sam (John Bradley), in his bookish, inquisitive way uses his last night before the attack to badger Jon (Kit Harington), and to play the lawyer. Later, with an awfully nice sense of dramatic timing for someone who lives in a fictional universe without film, Sam steals his first kiss from Gilly (Hannah Murray).
“What was it like to have someone? To be with someone? To love someone and have them love you back. We’re all going to die a lot sooner than planned. You’re my last chance to know,” Sam says wistfully, trying to find a loophole that might let him and Jon dream of love if they survive. “The interesting thing is, our vows never specifically forbid intimate relationships with women…What our vows have to say about all the activities is open to interpretation.” Jon, the more experienced of the pair, is still a bit shy when, describing “having someone,” he tells Sam “For a little while, you’re more than just you. Well, I don’t know,” retreating into the gruff disclaimer that “I’m not a bleeding poet.”
It is not all about love, either. In the tunnel, facing their deaths, Grenn (Mark Stanley) chants the words of his vows to his brothers to restore their courage. Their poignant recitation is the essence of ritual, silly when it is not necessary, but of vital importance when you need to transform yourself into the most powerful form of that “nothing” Sam became when he killed the White Walker. (And it is not only boys who hold onto childish things. Ygritte (Rose Leslie) may kill as many Westerosi people as the nastiest Thenn warrior in battle, but she is desperate to kill Jon herself, both to prove herself to the men who doubt her, and to avenge her hurt heart.)
Because they are boys, they need their teacher. One of the best things about this episode — an illustration of what “Game of Thrones” can do when it has the leisure to linger in a single location for an episode — was the way “The Watchers on the Wall” handled Ser Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale). Thorne is a cantankerous character, and his clashes with Jon Snow have been bitter since they first met. But when Thorne takes a moment to confess that Jon was right in his report about the wildlings and to confide in him atop the Wall, we can see the merit in Thorne for the first time.
“The Watchers on the Wall” does not stop there. Ser Alliser has never been interested in nurturing the boys entrusted to him, but when the wildlings come, it turns out that was not what they needed from him. When he has command of the Wall, they hold their discipline. When Janos Slynt (Dominic Carter) takes the Wall, the men fire their arrows too early, wasting precious resources and showing the wildlings the limit of their range. Slynt complains about the Brothers’ training and discipline, but the contrast between the two men’s brief commands of the Wall is a neat illustration of what makes for real leadership. It is Ser Alliser who takes the risk of going down to lead the fight at the gate, telling the frightened fighters: “A hundred generations have defended this castle. You’ve never fallen before. You will not fall tonight.” Thorne may have made mistakes that hurt the Night’s Watch out of pride and foolishness, but he is badly wounded defending the Wall, encouraging his Brothers to hold the gate even as he is dragged off to be tended to.
As the teacher falls, so fall the students, and the students’ childhoods. In a change from Martin’s novels, Jon loses two of his best friends in the Watch in this battle. Grenn dies holding the gate, while Pyp takes one of Ygritte’s arrows in the neck. Ollie, the little boy who brought the first warning of the wildling’s ranging south of the wall, picks up a bow and kills Ygritte while she threatens Jon Snow. When Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) calls Jon “boy” as Jon orders him dragged off in chains, Jon’s face says what he could never admit in words: He is not a boy anymore.
But while I appreciated the thematic coherence of this episode, one change from Martin’s novels struck me as an alteration for the worse. Benioff and Weiss are not afraid to have director Neil Marshall, their go-to for major battle sequences, show a man get shot off a wall by a giant arrow. They do not shy away from bodies impaled on stakes, eyes gouged out, cleavers and boiling liquid as weapons, or the sight of Jon Snow bashing in the Magnar of Thenn’s skull with a blacksmith’s hammer.
For some reason, though, they were afraid to preserve a key moment from Martin’s novels: Jon’s belief that it may have been his arrow that killed Ygritte, the woman he loved. In the books, that uncertainty reinforces Jon’s loyalty to the Night’s Watch and what it has cost him. Here, that task is given unambiguously to a child. When Jon holds a dying Ygritte in his arms, there is no fear or anger that either of them need to push aside. In an episode about the end of boyhood, “The Watchers on the Wall” preserved a boyish fantasy, and preserves Jon as a relatively unambiguous hero for episodes to come.
“Game of Thrones” can use violence of all sorts very effectively to reinforce its point about characters’ emotions and the society that they live in. The sight of Joffrey Baratheon’s (Jack Gleeson) face as he died of a poisoning served to reinforce his youth, and to suggest that as he died, we joined him in a sadistic enjoyment of a youth’s intense pain.
But that calibration can feel misapplied. Do we really need to see the viscera of the men the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) kills for practice to know his strength? Do we need to watch the ruin of Oberyn Martell’s (Pedro Pascal) face at such length, when Ellaria Sand’s (Indira Varma) shrieks of agony and Tyrion Lannister’s (Peter Dinklage) empty face remind us that Oberyn’s pain ends with his death, but others will have to live with the consequences of his defeat?
Earlier this season, “Game of Thrones” had the good sense to linger on Theon Greyjoy’s (Alfie Allen) face as his crazed master fed a living girl to his dogs earlier. The expression that forces its way up through the muscles Theon has learned to leave slack if he wants to survive, and the sounds of the death he was witnessing, told us everything we needed to know. The Watchers on the Wall know a lesson “Game of Thrones” could sometimes stand to learn: Sometimes the worst things are the ones you cannot see clearly.
|Posted by Admin on July 4, 2014 at 4:10 AM|
According to European brand manager Adam Bhatti, PES 2015 runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second on the PlayStation 4.
Things are a bit less clear when it comes to the Xbox One version. Senior creative producer Naoya Hatsumi, speaking about the possibility of PES 2015 running at the same resolution and frame rate on Microsoft’s console, said the team is “still at a stage where we can’t give a definite yes”.
“When you consider that question comes from us having just PS4 consoles available for gameplay on the floor, it’s just purely for the development reasons. At the current development stage we’re in – which is just under 70 per cent complete – we still have a lot of work on game balance and some of the gameplay elements are just much more visible on what we want to deliver… We thought that would be able to be conveyed best through a PS4 at this stage, but we are definitely working on the Xbox One [and] all other platforms in parallel to the PS4 edition.”
|Posted by Admin on July 4, 2014 at 4:00 AM|
Rating : 3 Star
Watch Dogs has been in the news ever since its teaser was launched in 2012. After a six-month delay, the game finally released last month and we had a chance to review the game over the weekend for you.
Watch Dogs is set in a fictionalised Illinois, Chicago that shows the best and worst parts of the city as well as the countryside. Here, players control Aiden Pearce, a hacker who is out to seek revenge against the death of his niece. Players essentially hack into ctOS, a centralised operating system that controls the city in which players can choose to play as vigilantes. ctOS is managed by Blume Corporation whose far-reaching powers are unravelled throughout the game.
Visually, the game retains the same feel as those of other premium games, somewhat over-glorifying the dark parts of Chicago. This gives the city a zombie-like feel and takes away from its reality quotient. Some blurry faces and lack of detail also contribute to the overall lack of excitement in the graphics department.
The hacking part of the game is cool though. You can check in to citizens’ conversations and read their most sensitive documents including transferring money to your account after hacking into bank ATMs. The sheer ability to hack into something and cause damage rather than go all ballistic with heavy-duty armoury or tanks is a welcome relief. It also lends Watch Dogs a firm overtone of geekdom. In fact, customising Aiden and his weapon is one of the most boring tasks of the game, primarily because there isn’t much to do in that department. Perhaps it’s all the bad karma for gathering too much money from other people in your account. Or perhaps the makers were just lazy to look into that aspect of the game.
But even hacking has its limits, especially in Watch Dogs. The problem with this is the sheer monotony of repetition that Aiden gets into. The game essentially is a series of missions for Aiden that are all similar to one another. During the rare mission where police will actually chase you for going into a restricted zone and hacking, the sub-par graphics will let you down.
There is a fair bit of suspense as you get closer to the end and things begin to unravel. It actually makes the effort of getting to the climax worth it. If only the game hadn’t relied on much on hacking and actually made the journey to the end more interesting, Watch Dogs would have been a great game. At the moment, the game feels more like a work-in-progress that Aiden himself might have to hack into to perfect.
|Posted by Admin on July 4, 2014 at 3:55 AM|
Through colourful curtains, rotating ducks, and an artistic background of hand-drawn illustrative stages, Battle Princess of Arcadias waste no time in plunging the player directly into the heart of the game. This was both pleasing and enjoyable as opposed to sitting through a ten minute cut-scene, and an hour long tutorial fueled by over complex game mechanics that most JRPGs seem a custom to.
Known as Plume the declared protector of the kingdom of Schwert, The Princess’ loyal squire known as Del, is slayed by a forest dragon and it’s up to the player to finish what Del started. After a brief tutorial of basic and strong attack buttons, player navigation, and a simplified item system, the player is required to hack ‘n’ slash the beast to it’s demise and become familiar with the controls.
Heading into a short cut-scene which introduces Raltz, the princess’ squire replacement due to Del’s death this is where the game truly begins and we become more familiar with the Princess’ character and those who will accompany her throughout the game. Seeing how Raltz has never been a battle and his scared stiff to the idea of even picking up a sword, it begs the question of who is going to be protecting who.
However, despite the desperation and imminent threat the game tries to present to the player, of dangerous monsters and such roaming the lands, the characters fail to portray this. Characters are cheerful and colourful in personality and smile through every encounter.
The princess enjoys the idea of monster slaying and appears to live in a dream world of her own, largely oblivious to what’s actually taking place around her. Aside from mythical monsters of dragons and giant birds, Battle of Arcadias presents a norm inwhich talking ducks serve at the princess’ royal hand, and keep the player up to date with all the mishappenings taking place within the kingdom.
Battle Princess of Arcadias plays as a 2D side-scrolling hack ‘N’ slash inwhich the levels are decided through the navigation of a hub-based map, within the princess’ kingdom. Playing as a battle party of three characters, with the choice of characters expanding as you progress through the game and meet these wonderful and distinct people. All characters level up through battle by the use of skills and abilities in order to remain distinct and useful for different battle situations.
Experience points, gold, items, and score counts are registered after completing stages, then ranked upon a standardized grade of A, B, and C. The player is then allowed to reap the items gained from fallen enemies and put to good use should they not wish to sell or trade them. Something that’s unique about the game’s combat system is the use of brigade formations. This feature allows the player to set on-the-fly formations for supporting NPCs that aid you in battle.
Attack formations, defense formations, and the choice to retreat, all place different effects on how the brigade moves in battle and raises certain abilities dependent on the chosen formation.
This adds a certain strategy to the game and is important when engaging in boss battles. As the use of NPC assistance builds up a power gauge, which is required for the use of special attacks known as showdowns. During showdowns the player needs to button bash as fast as possible within a given time limit.
A cinematic attack sequence then takes place in which a significant amount of damage is inflicted upon the enemy. This keeps the battle sections of the game from becoming boring and repetitive, while also looking visually stunning and exciting.
It’s important to work as a team while switching between your chosen team mates on the fly. Changing team mates is also crucial to the combat system as each character has his or her own unique weapon that may prove to be beneficial given a certain distance from your enemy. It’s also worth pointing out that since each character has their own health bar, upgrading each of them is quite necessary to the improvement of combat as well as your overall progression.
The failing of boss battles however seem to have no consequence for the player and you are free to repeat the battle or visit other locations in the game. There feels no rush or pressure to complete objectives in the game, and while this feels like a great implementation and serves as a good opportunity to stock up on potions and upgrade your weapons. The feeling of having no repercussions for failed battles seems like a missed-step for delivering new situations in the game, whether it be perma-death for NPCs or an adverse effect of the boss gaining it’s own set of skill points and holding it’s own sense of progression.
When the player is not taking place in battle, the kingdom’s village is free to roam about, where the player can visit the weapon-smith, item merchants, and barracks. While this hub is fairly limited in navigation and is simply a ten step system of moving the character back and fourth between each location, it seems to be attempting to replace a menu system in order to keep the player immersed within the game’s world. At these stores the player can buy and sell different items, as well as upgrading, and equipping different weapons for each member of the battle party.
As every location in the game is navigated through a 2D stage in which you move from one stage to the next, by walking left to right out of the screen, this often sometimes feel time consuming and pointless. It also breaks the idea of becoming immersed within the game’s world, when you’re presented with a world map pointing out your location. It’s a very strange clash as the map gives an illusion of freedom but the game is explored by 2D side scrolling.
Making use of an illustrative and colourful art style, Battle of Arcadias is very similar to most JRPGs, and this means it doesn’t do much in the way of standing out against them. While it’s visually pleasing and the use of colour works great amongst its still backgrounds is contrasting to it’s dynamic stage of battling characters and cartoonish explosions, demonstrating a sense of speed and player engagement.
While there’s nothing bad to say about how good the game looks, sadly that’s all there is to it and just like ever other JRPGs the only thing that sets this game apart from the other games to an outsider looking in, is the game’s characters, story and gameplay mechanics. While the game’s mechanics are enjoyable and simple enough to engage with, the battle sections of the game are frankly the only sections of the game that actually seemed worth playing. That’s precisely where the game’s strength lies and holds it’s only reason for true existence.
Character interaction is evident throughout the entire length of the game, and while this goes on for many to many hours, these characters did nothing worthwhile to keep me invested or even care for that matter for the end result of the game. Will Raltz eventually man-up? I didn’t care. Will Plume progress beyond her own fantasy world of pastel coloured flowers and hearts that flow from her head? I wasn’t sure and I didn’t care enough to look forward to it.
The only thing outside of the pretty yet mediocre art style which is common at this point to games of the same genre, was it’s use of items and NPCs when engaging in battle. Everything else outside of fight sequences felt like a drag, and I couldn’t be more grateful enough for the automatic skipping of cut-scenes, which can be set directly from the game’s option menu.
There was always an imminent feeling of ” I’ve played this before” and aside from the obvious visual traits that the game possessed it occurred to me just how bland and mediocre the game’s storyline was, with it’s use of fantasy creatures and a chosen warrior aided by an unskilled accomplice.
It’s nothing new and there’s nothing refreshing that says it’s worth anyone’s time amongst the enormous amount of JRPGs out there, other than general enjoyment for this genre of games and it’s satisfying combat system. Battle Princess of Arcadias isn’t a bad game, it just borders on a thin line of being a good one, while stumbling over to being cast as generic.
|Posted by Admin on June 26, 2014 at 12:30 AM|
The inFamous: Second Son – First Light DLC will launch on August 26 in North America and August 27 in Europe, developer Sucker Punch announced on Twitter today. You can find new concept art below.
|Posted by Admin on June 25, 2014 at 4:30 AM|
Deep Silver is preparing a new version of Saints Row IV. The publisher intends to ship “Saints Row IV: National Treasure Edition” – a package containing the original game and all DLC – on July 8. Pricing is set at $29.99.
|Posted by Admin on June 24, 2014 at 2:50 AM|
A system update is coming soon to both the PlayStation 4 and PS3. Sony’s new console will be brought to version 1.72 while the last-gen system will be set at version 4.60. A tweet published on the PlayStation account confirms that the update “will improve system software stability during use of some features”.