Browsing Category Reviews

Mad Max – A Good Game For A Bad Day

We’ve all had them kind of days, days where you just want to cry, scream and sleep, all at the same time. For some people talking with friends or loved ones, venting about the utter tripe that is your day, is a great way to unwind, while others prefer to be alone and indulge in a hobby, such as reading, or if you’re like me, play video games. I usually play the same type of games when I’m in a bad mood: Call of Duty, Battlefield, anything with a shooting element, my frustrations being taken out on the right trigger. To people that don’t play video games, the fact that blowing virtual heads off helps me to unwind after a stressful day, probably sounds quite psychotic, the Daily Mail having a field day with my admission. However, they’re are definitely many like me, and it’s probably you people that can imagine how much relief Wolfenstien: New Order brought me, after playing it on the day my grandad died. Shooters, especially online ones, have, for quite a while, been my go to place when I’m royally peeved, but last week, I found a new kind of game to make me feel even better.

With a release date that seemed a little nonsensical, Mad Max was pitted against MGSV when both came out in September, the excitement for the last Kojima game overshadowing Avalanche’s foray into the desert. I saw thoughts on Twitter about Mad Max, I read how people were both enjoying it and how some were finding it an overall, mediocre experience, but I tried to stay away from any reviews, wanting to formulate an opinion on the game myself. When I finally got round to some extensive playing, I found myself agreeing more with the latter of the two above opinions, boredom setting in after just a few hours.

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Knights of the Fallen Empire and how we got here

As I step into the story-driven adventure SWTOR has provided me with I can’t help but fall in love with the plot of this new expansion. Through BioWare-style cinematic storytelling we are offered a high quality narrative filled with well rounded characters, comic relief, dynamic conflicts of interest and many twists and turns in the story. This kind of single player like story telling is new for an MMO and we are all watching with excitement to see what happens once the chapters are completed. Will people stay for the end game? For the community? Is SWTOR taking a chance on a new brave concept or just repeating old mistakes? Before we return to dig deeper into the new expansion, bear with me for a minute while I quickly reminisce over how we ended up where we are in SWTOR today…

Developed by BioWare Austin, SWTOR was first announced on October 21, 2008. In 2009 the game’s first cinematic trailer “Deceived“, made byDeceived Blur Studio, was presented at a press conference and in September the same year BioWare began accepting applications for testers from the gaming community. Within minutes, the official website was down due to the high traffic. The increase in visitors was accommodated and a second  and third cinematic trailer (“Hope” and “Return“) were released. Books were also published to increase the hype. This was a great way to promote the game to Star Wars hungry fans and within three days of its launch SWTOR had one million subscribers, making it the fastest growing MMO ever seen. However, this thrilling success did not last long and in the following months the game lost a fair share of its subscribers. What happened?

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Trailer released!

Today the final Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer was released on US television and uploaded simultaneously online. Advanced tickets also went on sale a day before. The trailer is 2 minutes and 35 seconds long and gives a lot of insight into content we haven’t seen before. So far, over 5 million people have watched the trailer at the time of writing and it has only been released for a few hours.

This trailer is filled with plot which raises many questions about the story. Who is the red lightsaber wielding Kylo Ren and what is his connection to Darth Vader? Maybe my readers know more about this and can inform us in the comment section. The character of actor John Boyega known as “Finn” is stranded hopeless and without a cause on the infinite sea of sand that is presumably either Tattooine or Jakku.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – A Game For The Unfamiliar?

As a kid, I was never really interested in Metal Gear Solid. The only entry in the series I gave any time to being Ghost Babel on my Game Boy Colour. I tried the PS1 classic, a demo I believe giving me my first taste of its stealth action, but I could never get on board with it.METAL GEAR SOLID V_ THE PHANTOM PAIN_20150918181320 (1)

It required timing, precision, educated moves and at that moment in time, my attention span was not ready for that kind of gaming. I preferred the colourful ridiculousness of Crash Bandicoot, the platform exploration of Spyro, not to mention the little block men of ISS Pro Evolution (damn, I loved that game). It was only when Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow came out that I really started to enjoy stealth, my mind and hands ready for a new type of experience. By this time, the Metal Gear series wasn’t on my radar, other games were out and, despite my new found appreciation for the stealth genre, my earlier experience had put me off playing it. According to many of my friends, I missed out.

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Review of: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

What is it? A first-person mystery adventure
Play it on: PC and PS4
Reviewed On: PC
Price on steam: £15/ $20
Release date: Out Now
Developer: The Astronauts
Link: Official site

If you’ve already played through the game continue to my in depth story analysis to discuss theories!

“This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand” is the first thing we see after hitting play. It’s a message from the developers, a disclaimer. The statement is definitely true. There is no user interface, no maps or tools to help you along the way. We are only given a very basic introduction to the story as the game starts. We are then expected to discover how things work and what we’re supposed to do on our own. There is no tutorial segment explaining sprint or crouch. There aren’t quest arrows. We now have, to on our own piece together the events leading up to the vanishing of Ethan Carter in order to solve the mystery of the boy’s disappearance and several other gruesome murders.

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter: Analysis – SPOILERS

IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED THE GAME THEN
INSTEAD OF READING THIS ANALYSIS JUST GO TO THE REVIEW I MADE:
THE VANISHING OF ETHAN CARTER REVIEW

 

Trust me, unless you’ve actually played through it completely then the below theories won’t just be spoilers, it will be boring since you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about!

The-Vanishing-of-Ethan-Carter-scenery

 

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Thoughts on A.I. – A journey through fictionalized philosophy

If A.I. is conceivable than it is arguably possible. Now if it was possible then we need to ask ourselves “Is it desirable?”. Let’s have a look at implications.

The movie Ex Machina successfully blurs the lines between man and machine.

NATHAN
I programmed her to be heterosexual. Just like you were programmed to be heterosexual.

CALEB
Nobody programmed me to be straight.

NATHAN
But you are attracted to her.

CALEB
This is childish.

NATHAN
No, this is adult. And by the way, you decided to be straight? Please. Of course you were programmed. By nature or nurture, or both.

– Ex Machina, The screenplay

Instead of asking how artificial intelligence resembles humans and their behavior why don’t we turn this question upside down and ask ourselves how we resemble artificial intelligence. As humans we are conditioned or “programmed” by our environment and experiences. So what is the difference between us and a machine?

In the sci-fi book “Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K Dick we are introduced to the self destructive nature of man by the character Phil Resch and his increasingly lacking ability to emphasise. Resch has lost all empathy for androids as well as any living thing. He kills not because it is his job to do so but because he enjoys it. When Resch eventually finds out that he is not an android he is in fact surprised. The main character of the book, Rick, can come to no other conclusion except that Resch has lost a critical part of himself that made him human. This is a part of the reoccurring theme of depersonalization discussed in the book. 

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Ex Machina analysis

Ex Machina, Alex Garland’s directorial debut, is a truly thought provoking film with a fitting ambiguous ending which should leave your mind racing. Though the film’s premise is not original (considering Spielberg’s AI, Pinocchio, Blade Runner – the list goes on) there are characteristics which separates the script from others of it’s kind. The story is set in the middle of nowhere in the isolated state of the art home belonging to the AI-creator and tech-billionaire Nathan. Caleb, who starts off as the protagonist, has been brought there to serve as the human part of a kind of Turing Test. Ava is the AI which will be examined. Her ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human will be determined by Caleb, a coder at a Google-esque company called Bluebook created by Nathan. Ava is also the enigma at the heart of this film and the philosophical problems that it presents.

SPOILER ALERT

Various thought experiments are referred to in the film but also experienced first hand by the viewer. The question we ask ourselves is, can Ava,  (as in the thought experiment ‘Mary’s Room’ mentioned by Caleb in the movie) ever really know the world if she is only ever kept in the room Nathan prepared for her? For as she is kept in this prison she could be seen as stuck inside Plato’s cave where she can only see the shadows of reality dancing on the wall of the cave. She cannot experience them first hand.

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