January 2019 Free Time

Would you believe that I spent a large portion of my time on honeymoon, lying lazily on the couch, watching rubbish on TV? With the new wife obviously. If you said yes, then you know me well. The time off work and with my partner was fantastic. Was I productive? Ha, of course not! But you’re not here for productivity so let’s chat about the time I wiled away.

Games

dead-cells logo

Why won’t you let me win, Dead Cells?! Have I not been patient with you and dedicated enough time to you? I have a huge backlog of games to get through and yet there you sit on my PS4 dashboard. Taunting me with the potential of THAT run. The one where I beat the final boss for the 2nd time over my 60+ attempts. After all my 59+ loses, I still adore the gameplay of Dead Cells. Simplistic gameplay with oodles of complexity. What keeps me coming back after each failure is the way I fail in Dead Cells. When I lose, I don’t think the game is being unfair. I die because I get too bold, I play bad or the run just doesn’t come together. That’s what makes a great rogue-lite. When you lose and you can accept the loss. Because you know that you can do it and you will do it on another run. The next run? Only one way to find out! *Goes and plays Dead Cells again*

red-dead-redemption-2

Red Dead Redemption 2 continues to drift in and out of my sessions. It still hasn’t hooked me and I’m at the Epilogue now. So, I think I’m far past the part where I *get it* or it *just clicks* like friends have told me. Not to say I’m not enjoying my time with it to an extent. I think the story and characters are engrossing. It’s just the gameplay in-between which holds it back for me. I’m looking forward to finishing it, purely from a narrative experience but I can’t say I’m racing to play it.

resident-evil-2-remake-claire-740x382

What a fantastic demo that Resident Evil 2 had! The concept of a timed demo seems unfair but it does a brilliant job of giving you that little fix that makes you crave more. Big fan of seeing more demos like it. I hadn’t even planned on buying it and yet my order is arriving tomorrow. I’ve played most of the main Resident Evil series, including 2 but I wasn’t that fussed about replaying it. The overhaul though is extraordinary. Zombies are scary again! Get the champagne out! I only experienced shooting mechanics for a dozen or so minutes but I really enjoyed how it felt. The fact that the aim takes a bit of time to finesse itself so you get an accurate shot is a huge deal to me. No more quick shots RE4 style. Precision is key. Zombies also take a lot to kill which I can fully get behind. And when there bodies hit the floor, I really struggle to tell if they’re dead or not. So much so, that I employed the Zombieland double tap method. In a game with limited ammo, I can see me firing an extra bullet into the deceased deceased as a bad habit. But, we shall see when I start my playthrough. I’m sure you’ll hear my thoughts on the game in the short future.

Films

starship-troopers1

Starship Troopers really holds up! I watched this film when I was 7 or 8 and saw it mainly as a Sci-Fi/Action film. Guns, aliens, yelling and brief nudity were all bonuses to any film for a young lad. My wife was genuinely scared of this film as a child and when we were flicking through the channels on honeymoon (we don’t have a TV license so Sky was a luxury for us) she spotted the film and put it on to show me how gruesome and scary it was. I quickly explained I knew most of the classic quotes of by heart from frequent watching as a child. But when we settled to watch it, it became clear how great the film is. I don’t think the film was big budget but the aliens and special effects look pretty great considering its age. Not only that but the satirical aspect of it was completely lost on me as a child. Seeing all its intentions with an adult mind really made me appreciate the film on another level. And it’s just a great alien killing romp with some pure cheese lines that steal my heart with each watch. If I’m ever in charge of a battalion, ‘Come on you apes, you wanna live forever?’ will be my battle cry. No one alive could resist following me into battle after that rousing line! Highly Recommend

bad times

An interesting film that fizzled out towards the end and slacked in the middle for me was Bad Times At The El Royale. A really intriguing beginning, fantastically shot with a terrific soundtrack and a cast of actors that always stood out to me. The first hour I was fully on board with the mystery and style but it just couldn’t the premise for its almost 2 1/2 long runtime. With its initial setup I was expecting more of a mystery with twists and turns but the film quickly resolved its questions without much fanfare. It made me wonder throughout most of the film if I missed something or when the next big twist was coming. That was possibly my own downfall but it did seem like there should have been more going on than what was handed up, especially with the disjointed first act. But as I said, expecting more mystery is a personal fault in my viewing experience and perhaps not the films fault. I do think the middle drags and I found the end to be a bit bland but strong performances and music kept me interested in this film. I’m glad I watched it and I would suggest watching the film but I don’t think I’ll ever watch this again. Happy I watched it but it’s not very memorable. Light Recommend

Series

killingeve

I finally started Killing Eve. Watched all 8 episodes in one night so that shows you how good I think it is. Basic premise is Eve, a government investigator gets brought in to investigate a murder of a political figure. That’s the first episode and from there it escalates into a game of cat and mouse. The 2 leads are very well acted and the main villain really captures your attention. Fantastic performances all round and what I love about the show is even though it’s a dark series about murder and assassinations, it has a healthy dose of humour and dark humour. Which as a fan of early Dexter, I’m all about! Another praise I have to give this show is that it knows not to drag its feet. 8 episodes long and the plot moves at a good pace. Too many shows have a loose middle now from overextending their plot into more episodes but a lean experience is always more memorable than a drawn out one. Quality over quantity and Killing Eve is a prime example of this. Highly Recommend

Random Recommendation

invincable

For this month I wish to recommend the graphic novel Invincible by the creator of The Walking Dead. This is his attempt at the superhero genre and I think he does an admirable job of creating an entire superhero universe and hero. Mark Grayson is Invincible, a superhero that is essentially Superman but in his Smallville era except it didn’t take 10 seasons for Mark Grayson to learn how to fly. Invincible can fly, is quick, durable and super strength. He wins no prizes for originality but that isn’t what the series is about. Robert Kirkman has taken the highs of comic books and its tropes and recreated them in his vision. For instance, there is a Justice League equivalent where the Aquaman version is literally a walking fish man who is the butt of jokes. Just like how Aquaman was a joke character in general media like Robot Chicken. What I really enjoy about Invincible is how the characters evolve. Heroes have problems and downfalls, they aren’t always on top form like Batman and Superman. Heroes mess up and suffer consequences or change mindsets in a gradual manner. There is a lot of personality and progression with the characters and some of the storylines are great arcs. As I said, a lot of this stuff is borrowed from other comics but after 60+ years of comics it’s hard not to do that. But as I said, Kirkman generally puts his own twist on the tried arcs and brings a new flare to the basics. If like me, you enjoy general comic book films and like comic book characters and like to dip into the comics now and then, I highly recommend Invincible. Part of the reason I only read contained stories in comics like Planet Hulk/World War Hulk is because you can jump into those things with basic knowledge of the characters and the world and just figure the rest out as you go. But if I grabbed a random Spider-Man comic I would be completely lost with what is going on. Invincible has an easy starting point and an end, and at 144 issues, it’s not a huge commitment.

Anyway, that’s me for this month. Hope you had a good month and thank you for reading. Take it easy.

December 2018 Free Time

Wow, I’m late with this! I’m getting married tomorrow and writing has taken a backseat. To be more accurate, it’s several rows of seats back. When I started writing this post the sentence was originally: ‘I’m getting married next week’.  But, I’m here now to let you know how my lazy bum whittled away my spare time besides Christmas, work and seemingly endless wedding discussions and meetups. I’m sure you’re all dying to know. Expect this to be a shorter post as like I said, pre-wedding shenanigans have taken most of my time this month and I can’t spend too long on this otherwise my partner will kill me.

Games

super-smash-1153641I promised myself I wouldn’t buy Super Smash Bros Ultimate and a week after its release I crumbled. See, this is why I don’t do drugs or try anything with major addictive qualities, I have no will power. Except for video games. Games are my vice and I was handed a controller when I was 2 years old so I can’t be held accountable for that. I crave games and I craved Smash Bros so I bent the knee to my desires. And, I’m glad I did. Ultimate is a return to form in my opinion, after the disappointing Wii U game. If you’ve played Smash Bros, then you know what Ultimate is. It’s Smash Bros but overflowing with content, characters and modes. I recently completed the World of Light mode which I found very engrossing and fun. I even 100% that and fully enjoyed doing so. It plays well, it sounds amazing and it’s just good old Smash fun. I will say it is the perfect Switch game too. I’m a person who plays docked mode most of the time but the majority of my time with Ultimate has been lying on the couch, Youtube on in the background and the Switch in my greasy mitts. It’s perfect if you want to multitask with your limited time as you don’t need to fully commit your concentration to enjoy it. Gangplank Galleon Remix is awesome as well. I keep listening to this song over and over again. The best song in the game!

tetris effect

Tetris Effect has recently tantalised my mind in a way that I wasn’t expecting. I had heard great things praising its visuals and sound design but I didn’t quite understand it until I bought it. Accompany this game with some headphones and a dimly lit room and you’re in for an experience. The game is essentially Tetris and so if you’ve played Tetris before you know what you’re in for. What makes it stand out though is the surrounding aspects. Tetris Effect has a bunch of levels and each one has a theme or idea it is aiming to achieve. The more lines you clear the more the level evolves and changes before your eyes. When you flip Tetris blocks lights and sounds will happen and the controller will vibrate. It creates this cohesive feeling that I’m really struggling to explain. Great writing, I know but it really is something that plays so much better than what you watch of it. I’m having a blast with it and I’ve never really been a huge lover of Tetris. It’s a classic game, don’t get me wrong but I would always drift away from it after a couple of hours. Tetris Effect keeps drawing me back in even when I’ve seen all the levels it has to offer. The levels pull me back in, I want to experience what I first felt when I played each one. A unique experience meshed with a classic game that I fully recommend trying.

ac odyssey

The Assassin’s Creed series had worn out its welcome for me. I had played 2 and Brotherhood and thoroughly enjoyed Ezio’s journey but when it came to Revelations I couldn’t finish it. It felt so samey. 3 came along and I gave it a go for about 20 minutes and then never returned to the series. Even Black Flag I skipped which is heresy according to some people. When Origins came out people praised its change in design and so I thought I’d give the series another go at some point. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was my re-entry point to the series and so far, I’m eh about it. It’s a fine game but I don’t see much to it. Currently I’ve put in about 15 hours so I feel I’ve experienced most of what is on offer. I’m not going to write it off just yet as it’s still keeping me entertained for the most part. But it’s that reliable entertained. It’s a game that I put on when I’m tired from work and don’t want anything too taxing or a game that I’m heavily invested in. It’s like a McDonald’s meal. Does the job and it satisfies that itch when we crave something like that. Side note, the voice acting is awful in this game. Characters feel like they don’t know the scene they’re in and so either read their lines monotone or in the completely wrong tone. It’s laughably bad and irritating all in one.

red-dead-redemption-2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a difficult game for me. Aspects of the game I really enjoy and others infuriate me. Recently, I’ve come back to it after taking a month away from it because of my frustrations. I hoped I could come back to it with a new mindset and so far I am enjoying more than I was at the tail end of my playthrough a month ago but some feelings still remain unchanged. I’m going to keep playing it and I’ll either do a review or a write up on why I feel the way I do about RDR2. There’s a lot I want to discuss about it right now and only time will tell if I feel the same way when I complete it.

Films

halloween 2018

Halloween is an interesting concept, as the events of the film completely erase the original films sequels. It’s a neat idea to return the story back to a basic form as the Halloween franchise has had many sequels with varying peaks and lows in its lore. That brings me to Halloween (2018). Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for it. I found it very forgettable and not scary. Which, for a horror doesn’t bode well. The dialogue was very spotty at times for me with some cringe inducing lines and overall just weak characters. I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t care for it at all. Not Recommended

kubo-and-the-two-strings-

3rd time watching Kubo And The Two Strings. Still love this film. If you’re a fan of the visual style of Coraline, then I highly suggest this. It looks amazing and tells a mature tale that is ideal for both, adults and children. Can’t praise the animation and the work Laika put into this project enough. Absolutely Recommend

Random Recommendation

reynolds-always-sunny

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is still one of the ongoing greatest shows. The series follows the exploits of the gang as they try to cheat, lie and steal their way through life, and trust me, there is no truce within the gang regarding that lifestyle. A large portion of why I love this show is because this group of friends are as quick to work on a crazy scheme together, as they are quick to stab each other in the back for minor gain. What I really love about the show is how the characters evolve over the seasons. And with 13 seasons, there is a lot of progression to be seen. From Charlie’s illiteracy to Dennis’s God complex. And sure, like similar shows the characters at times become caricatures of themselves similar to how Homer Simpson became insanely stupid in comparison to his earlier seasons. But, Sunny acknowledges this and its episode repetition as a character trait of the gang and so when doing that, there is some humour to be had. I can’t imagine going 13 seasons without some repetition and so it’s good to see a show adapt that fault into its episodes. All said though, if you want a funny and crass show about a bunch of selfish losers then you can’t do much better than It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post and I’ll be posting more regular content soon. Take it easy.

November 2018 Free Time: Games/Series/Anime

With October out of the way you would think the scary month would be gone. But no! I’m getting married in January and so even though with each passing month my excitement grows, so does my anxiety and stress levels. Most of this month was spent with wedding details but I still managed to cram in hours of games and a few films. So, let’s begin with the games!

Games

Divinity

After months and months, possibly even a year of on and off sessions, I’ve completed Divinity: Original Sin on PS4. I’ll probably do a review at some point so I won’t get too much in depth here. I’ve just started the sequel too so I’m excited to see how it compares. One thing I will say though. I don’t recall playing a game that actually implemented different skill and class aspects as well as this. What I mean by that is, you get quests and you get class specific skills and spells. A lot of the time, the quests are designed so openly that there is a wide range of ways to complete your task. To a fault possibly! A lot of the time I would be doing a quest and I’ll teleport a thing to a place which would then let me progress in the quest. But I would later find a lever or get a key of a dying character that would have opened up the same progression as my teleport trick. Occasionally I would straight up think I broke the game or that I’ve completely gone off the quest path but sure enough I would end up completing the quest by sheer bumbling. The game is a parent on their phone at the park! It gives you the tools such as a bucket and spade and tells you to go and play. Now and again it’ll look up and say you should try doing this or that but for the most part what you achieve with what you’ve got is all depending on your imagination. It’s an interesting game and I’ll do a review in the future if you’re after more details.

Enter The Gungeon

Another game that I’ve had for ages and been on and off with is Enter The Gungeon. The past few days I’ve given it a proper go. I’ve been craving a rogue-lite game lately similar to The Binding Of Isaac and this fits the bill. For those that don’t know what the gameplay is like, it’s essentially a dungeon crawler with bullet hell mechanics. You kill enemies, get currency, find upgrades, kill the floor boss and progress to the next level. It’s randomised each time and certain progression carries over to the following runs. What I love about the game is it fully embraces the gun aesthetic! There are tons of guns to use each with wacky functions or homages to guns of different medias. The enemies are all gun themed, these include walking bullets with guns that fire bullets, bosses like the Gorgun which is essentially Medusa with Uzi’s. Even the loading screen is a revolver loading animation. The game is pretty challenging too! You really need to explore and gather new weapons otherwise the later floors are going to be a real challenge. There’s a huge game here but I love the fact that the game is simple to play though. It doesn’t tell you much about the Gungeon itself, you have to wade through that and find its secrets on your own but the controls are very basic. It’s a simple to pick up but hard to master game and it’s perfect for those quick play sessions that we all need sometimes.

Shadow-of-the-Colossus

I have to stop buying this game. We all have one. The games we keep buying on different systems. And Shadow Of The Colossus is one of those games for me. So far I’ve bought this on PS2, PS3 and PS4. And each time I fall in love with it again. This is one of my all time favourite games. The whole thing is a giant experience. The scale, the awe, the amazing and perfect soundtrack. Shadow of the Colossus is essentially a bunch of boss battles but each one is distinctive and memorable. Even the weakest colossi I remember more than most final boss fights in other games. I can’t praise the game enough. I think it’s unique, I love the near barren world and the little details you’re left to figure out yourself. The fact that each boss is basically a puzzle you have to solve and as you progress through the puzzle the music changes along with you. Just a masterclass in gaming in my opinion. I can’t wait to buy it again! And again! And again!

Series

The_Office_US

I haven’t finished any series in November but I’m still going to mention a few of them. Especially this one since it has 9 seasons and I’m just flitting in and out of it so I’ve no idea when I’ll finish it but The Office (US). My partner loves this show and I’ve not really been that bothered to watch it. I think because I found the UK version really cringey. I know that was the point but I wanted to gouge my eyes out while watching it. So I was pleasantly surprised to see the US version is more comedy than awkwardness. It’s a great show to watch if you want something light while having your tea or in the background. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

barry-ka-1920

A strange one I’m currently watching is Barry starring Bill Hader. I’m only 3 episodes in but so far I’m really enjoying it. It has that Dexter show dark humour about it which I’m a sucker for. Barry follows Barry who is a hit man that gets wrapped up in a job in Los Angeles. Circumstances happen which means Barry has to hang around the area which may not be a bad thing for him. During his hit he has to blend in with a local acting group and suddenly Barry feels something he wasn’t expecting. Has Barry found his true meaning in life on the stage? Again, if you liked Dexter I think you’ll like this. It has similar beats.  Barry lacks a lot of emotions but is an expert at killing. He has a code and believes in killing people who deserve it. And he has to have a fake face which he finds very difficult to achieve. The show has a good grasp on when to be dark and when to be funny. Make no mistake, there is quite a lot of grim violence but it all adds layers to Barry and why he is the way he is. So far, it’s a very interesting show and I’m definitely going to finish it. It also features Henry Winkler AKA one of the best character from Arrested Development so that might twist your arm.

Anime

attack_on_titan_season_2

I’m way behind but I’m closing the gap fast on Attack On Titan. I watched the first season when it came out years ago and I’ve just finished season 2 this week. It’s still a great anime. Got a bit slow at parts and a few characters got a bit too much screen time for my liking as I didn’t really care for their characters but I understand that it was building to something and I completely get it now. The Titans will never not disturb me and even though I got fewer answers than I would have liked, especially how the first season ended, I still appreciate that the plot has progressed and new revelations have come about. There are so many questions raised in this season alone though but I’m eager to watch season 3 and eventually find out some answers. Season 2: Highly Recommend

Jojo Part 5

One of my favourite animes is back, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 5: Golden Wind! I’ve been eagerly awaiting this since I finished part 4. I needed my Jojo fix and actually read all the parts in their coloured manga form. So even though I’ve read this entire part, I’m still super excited to watch each episode and to see some of my favourite bits come to life on the screen. And come to life it does, it looks fantastic! So bright and colourful! You’ve got to love the Gang Stars too. All the crew are great and their voices perfectly match what they sounded like in my head. Some people put Golden Wind down and I can understand a lot of their complaints. I’m excited for Golden Wind mainly because it gets me closer to the later parts being released in anime form but that’s not to say part 5 is bad. I personally find the main character and his Stand power to be pretty bland in comparison to the other main characters and powers of other parts. Still, part 5 has some of the best Stand battles, the wackiest Stand abilities and I honestly do love the team. Narancia is a highlight for me and I can’t wait to see some of the future fights. Golden Wind: I’ll always recommend Jojo!

Random Recommendation

Super Best Friends

I’ve been following these guys on Youtube for…..I don’t even want to know how long I’ve wasted my time on these scrubs but the Super Best Friends Play are my favourite Youtuber’s and streamers. Matt, Pat, Woolie and the previous member Liam have some of the best gaming content out there. They love their games and if you ever check out their videos where they play series they love or anything with mechas fighting, you can tell how hype they get. They also host a podcast each week which I really recommend checking out. One thing I will say if you try them out, is if you don’t like them straightaway, try to stick them out a bit. The Super Best Friends don’t make it easy on their channel and I love and hate that aspect. There is a lot of inside jokes and references, stuff that I’d get after years of watching them but to newcomers it is just ramblings. Nevertheless though, if you just want a channel that will play through a game and will give their honest opinion of it, they’re perfect. They don’t ham fist it, they don’t scream at the top of their lungs, they don’t shill their content and they very rarely use cameras. It’s just a pure gaming channel. If you interested in trying one of their playthrough’s I highly recommend Beyond: Two Souls or Omikron. They have a massive hate for David Cage games, besides Detroit Being Human. Mostly because they see the potential in his games but they love when the story goes down the toilet or when his twists don’t make sense. It’s a great laugh.  If you’re a lover of fighting games, I also highly recommend their channel. Each Friday night they play a fighting game, both great or terrible games. I also recommend their Subreddit if you  are willing to try them. You will hardly find a better community and fanbase than the TwoBestFriendsPlay Subreddit.

Thank you for reading this post and feel free to comment your views or suggestions for me to try.