E3 2017 – Bethesda Press Conference

E3 2017 – Bethesda Press Conference

It’s been ages since I made a post, and I am more than glad to get back in the game with a Bethesda E3, of all things.

Pete Hines , VP of Bethesda Softworks on stage, gonna be announcing them games we are all going to devour like maniacs.

  1. DOOM VFR is the first on the list, followed by Fallout 4 VR.
  2. Elder Scrolls Online : Morrowind announced, is out already,
  3. Introduction of Creation Club, for creating new game content for Fallout 4 and Elder Scrolls : Skyrim.
  4. The Elder Scrolls Legends : Heroes of Skyrim coming out on June 29, 2017. An addition to their CCG which released quite a while back.
  5. Dishonored : Death of the Outsider coming out on August 15, 2017, probably a DLC, unless they’re making it an 8-10 hour long game.
  6. Quake World Championships will be taking place at QuakeCon on August 26, 2017.
  7. The Evil Within 2 has been announced at last, and the game will be releasing on October 13, 2017, which happens to be a Friday, because why not.
  8. Wolfenstein 2 : The New Colossus has been announced, with a release date of October 27, 2017.

And that’s it for the Bethesda conference folks!

Kristin Hannah – Night Road

Kristin Hannah – Night Road

If I stuck to my reading patterns, then Kristin Hannah would be a novelist I would be totally unfamiliar with; being more of a crime/military fantasy reader myself. But then, what’s the point of reading if you stick to well-established patterns, right? Also unavoidable is the fact that Night Road was staring at me from the top among my Goodreads recommendations. Of course, I had to get to it sooner or later.

Night Road begins with a girl, Lexi Baill, an orphaned teenager adopted by her aunt Eva and taken to her place on Pine Island, where Eva lived in a trailer park. Lexi joins the high school and on the very first day, makes friends with Mia Farraday, who is more or less a social outcast in her class. Outwardly, Mia and Lexi couldn’t have been more different; Mia came from a prestigious and wealthy family, and had a loving mother in Jude Farraday, and mischievous and incredibly popular twin brother in Zach. Lexi on the other hand, grew up in seven different families which came forward to adopt her, only to be pulled out of them by her drug addict of a mother who spent most of her time in prison. However, both had similar mentalities, both of them loved reading, and most importantly to Mia, Lexi was the only one who didn’t care if she would be shunned by others for befriending Mia.

When Jude Farraday catches wind of this, she is at first both happy and worried for Mia; something similar had happened before when another girl became friends with Mia, but the girl only used Mia to get close to her brother Zach. But over time, Jude’s worries are alleviated and she comes to treat Lexi as one of the family. Later on, things get more complicated between Mia and Lexi, but the issues get resolved. But one incident that occurs, changes their lives forever; hearts are left broken, never to heal, hopes crushed to the ground, you know the drill. How can they all come out of this and begin to hope for the future again, with renewed life?

Don’t put her in the dark…

At first I thought Night Road would be a cheesy romance novel and was regretting buying the book on an impulse[considering there are many other books on my recommendations list I don’t give a second glance to], but all my doubts were put to rest within 20 minutes of my starting the book. Kristin Hannah writes brilliantly, there is not a shred of doubt about it; the writing flows smoothly, without any disjointedness even when she is switching perspectives from Lexi to Jude to Zach. The story is not very complicated, but her writing makes all the difference in the world. Character development is spot-on; especially with Jude Farraday, and the relationship between her and Miles, her husband. The events and the dialogue really get you emotional, and some of us might need to keep a tissue box in reach; it gets that touching. I must iterate, Night Road has been a real emotional rollercoaster ride for me.

If you are a fan of emotionally draining books and tear-jerkers, just go for Night Road without another thought. I’m not someone who generally reads that kind of books, but Night Road makes me want to change it, even if just for a little while.

RATING : 9.8/10

 

 

William Landay – Defending Jacob

William Landay – Defending Jacob

For quite some time, I really wanted to read a good court-room thriller. After seeing Defending Jacob on my Goodreads recommendations, I decided to give it a try. And am I glad I did…

Andy Barber is a respected and well-admired assistant district attorney, and one of the best prosecutors in his county. He leads a peaceful life with his wife, Laurie, and his teenage son Jacob. However, this existence is shattered by the murder of a young boy in the neighborhood. And the prime suspect of this murder is Jacob. Andy, being a father, of course believes completely in Jacob’s innocence, despite the emergence of some damning new evidence, which rocks the family boat and strains the relationship between Andy and Laurie to near-breaking point.. As if this was not enough, Andy has been withholding a secret for more than twenty years, something he hasn’t disclosed to even his wife. How far will Andy go to protect his son?

The plot is pretty solid, with minimal loopholes and plotholes and whatever other holes there may be in a novel; if there were any, I didn’t notice them at the very least. At the outset, the concept is simple, but the plot-progression adds layers of complexity that jsut cannot be ignored. The character development by William Landay was so good it approaches near-perfection. It’s painfully heartbreaking how Laurie changes over the course of the book from an optimist to a wreck; the case takes a toll on Andy too in more ways than one can imagine. Defending Jacob reminds me of A Simple Plan by Scott Smith, in the best way possible.

Just pick up this book, and I’ll guarantee you will not be able to put it down until you get to the end. It’s hard to believe Defending Jacob is only William Landay’s third novel. Okay, let’s stop the posturing; just buy this book already! Doubly so if you are a fan of court-room thrillers like me.

RATING : 9.6/10

To The Moon

To The Moon

Ever since I started twitch streaming, I’ve been on the lookout for some awesome indie games because let’s face it; my laptop is nowhere near good enough to play the latest games, let alone run a livestream on the side. During this search, I came across To The Moon, a 2D exploration game(sort of) made by Freebird games.

To The Moon puts us in the shoes of Dr. Neil Watts, one of the duo who go to visit Johnny Wyles, a dying man with a wish to go to the moon. The wish is made even more inexplicable by the fact that even Johnny doesn’t know why he wants to go there, in the first place. However, that wasn’t something that Neil and his partner, Dr. Eva Rosalene, should worry about. As employees of Sigmund Corp., their job is to fulfill Johnny’s dying wish by implanting memories into his mind using some revolutionary technology. So no matter how weird they found Johnny’s situation, it wasn’t something they had to overly worry about; just accomplish whatever they came to this rural settlement for, then leave the man to die in peace. And on to the next job.

But when Eva and Neil go into Johnny’s memories and cause some alterations to push him towards becoming an astronaut, they find out that no matter how much they tried, their attempts ended in failure. And amongst all this was his deceased wife, River Wyles, who had an eccentric habit of making paper rabbits during the later stages of her life. What was the relationship dynamic between River and Johnny, really?  And what is with that lighthouse? Most importantly, why were they facing these unanticipated difficulties in altering Johnny’s memories? Telling you more would only end up spoiling the story for you guys, so just play it and find out for yourself.

                                             If you don’t make this too hard, then of course…

The plot of To The Moon is rock-solid, I must say. The way it progresses from the present to Johnny’s memories over his life time was done really well, and some events threaten to bring tears to your eyes. However the gameplay itself is uninspiring, to say the least. We just go around collecting a certain number of interactable objects, then find a memento, solve a small puzzle and use the memento to get further into Johnny’s past life. Not so great gameplay-wise. However, this mechanic works well in establishing how certain objects have left an indelible impression on Johnny. The soundtrack is amazing though, I must say. A game like this needs an appropriate soundtrack to set the mood of the player, and To The Moon, I’m glad to say, has done the job well. And wait, I almost forgot to say this : the dialogue is awesome. The banter between Neil and Eva often will make you laugh out loud, and serves to establish not only their personalities, but also their camaraderie.

So, do I recommend To The Moon? Hell yes I do, especially if you’re a fan of indie games and story-driven games. Just go for it already!

RATING : 9/10

PROS :
– great story
– awesome soundtrack
– main characters’ conversations are so funny

CONS :
– gameplay itself is uninteresting

John Wick : Chapter 2

John Wick : Chapter 2

The first iteration in the John Wick franchise was brutal and gory, yet the story was solidly made. John Wick, a retired contract killer, is reluctantly pulled back to his ways of old when the son of a Russian mafia don steals his car[a present from his deceased wife] and kill his dog. And we got to follow Johnny boy’s quest for revenge and oh boy, what a movie it was. So of course, I went in to the theater with high expectations.

The film begins with John Wick cleaning up the last remnants of the Russian boss’ family, and the boss’ cousin makes a truce with John for his life. John returns back home with his car, but then meets a ghost from the past. When John was trying to retire from being an assassin, he made a deal with Santino D’Antonio, one of the big names in the underworld, sort of. Now D’Antonio has returned for the favor he is owed. D’Antonio’s target : his own sister, who was set to inherit the seat among the big fifteen. John respectfully declines, stating he has left the world of killing for good, but D’Antonio doesn’t like that. He blows up John’s home, with him inside it; John barely manages to escape alive from the ensuing inferno.

But he couldn’t very well skip out on the contract he’s been offered, as he owed D’Antonio the favor, and the Continental guidelines also support the aggressor. Leaving John Wick in a contract which he just couldn’t back out of.  But as complicated as this may be, there are even more complexities in store; D’Antonio has set on John a tail in the form of Ares, a lady with a stare that could punch through you like daggers. Pretty soon the film turns into the good old killfest like in the first film, but this is not mindless, not by a long shot. As John races around from Rome back to his home town, there is only one thing he can be sure of; that everyone is after him. As they say, it isn’t paranoia if everyone is out to get you.

                                                      John Wick and the pills guy…

As it was in the first film, John Wick 2‘s strength lies in its action scenes. The hand-to-hand combat scenes and the gunfights are shot with style, and there is an undeniable sense of efficiency in the way John Wick disposes of his would-be killers. This is action at its finest. But it is not just the action; the story is pretty good too, unlike many other action films where the plot takes a back seat, if even that. Also, the main character of John Wick is more fleshed out now in this second iteration. I just love how everyone stands up and takes notice of John whenever he’s around. Acting is decent too; Keanu Reeves does great as John Wick, the reluctant assassin. Ruby Rose as the mute-but-menacing Ares is cool as hell. Also has a Laurence Fishburne doing a cameo, which got half the theatre screaming “Morpheus!”. Importantly, it is not every action movie that has an atmosphere as charged-up as this.

In the end, I’d say this is one of the best action movies to come out in recent times. I like the fact that John Wick 2 doesn’t rely on cheesy CGI and unnecessary explosions to keep the action rolling. And it does the job a sequel should do; improve upon the original in every way. If you happen to like action, then wait till you get a load of this!

RATING : 9.7/10

PROS :
– brilliant action scenes
– solid story
– electrifying atmosphere

CONS :
– extras do a kind of crappy job, sometimes

 

SUPERHOT

SUPERHOT

As I was checking out new indie games which I could play on my dying laptop, I came across SUPERHOT, supposed to be one of the most innovative game of last year. Of course I was intrigued by this description, and decided to try it out myself. So, is it worth playing?

When you first boot into SUPERHOT, you are greeted by what is supposedly another player of the game[in the game world], urging you to try out the game. Once you boot up superhot.exe from the  game menu, you are thrown into a few random situations where the game’s mechanics are explained to you, in what is ostensibly a tutorial. Here you are introduced to how time works in the game. Basically, only when you move, does time also. This lies at the core of SUPERHOT, and the most important thing to keep notice of, is how you’re going to utilize this mechanic.

Because even though the game is a first-person shooter at the outset, you absolutely have to be on your toes trying to figure out which ones among the red guys you have to focus on. The one who’s firing at you with a shotgun, or the one who’s right next to you and will punch you in the gut? Or is it the location from where you just heard a pistol pop off? All the varied possibilities and choices one can make, make for interesting dynamics. This game is essentially a puzzle where the pieces move as you do.

Not to say that it doesn’t have a story as such. We start off by just trying out this game at a friend’s recommendation, but the soon after everything goes sideways. At the start, we cannot get into the full game because the later game levels are password-protected, but then we manage to somehow get in due to some glitch. Soon enough, the game turns into something else entirely.

All of this is neatly packed into a short but satisfying 2.5-3 hours of the game. Yes, SUPERHOT is pretty small, but is totally worth every second of it. And the fun doesn’t end once the story is finished; you can try out the Endless Mode which gets unlocked after the story completion.

In the end, I’d like to say that this game is nothing short of marvelous, and is worth trying out. Anyone who is even remotely into indie games would find this a worthy buy.

RATING : 9.7/10

PROS :
– innovative mechanics
– great concept
– story

CONS :
– campaign is too small
– frame rates were occasionally bumpy[maybe because I was streaming]

Watch me play SUPERHOT on my twitch channel flamenfeed.

Nocturnal Animals [2016]

Nocturnal Animals [2016]

I finished watching Nocturnal Animals about an hour ago. And I must confess, it was a mind-screw type of film in some aspects. Best thing about it, is I’ve always liked such films. Also, I’m a sucker for Jake Gyllenhaal’s films; they always have the element of the psychological in them. Does this film by Tom Ford match up to those other films I like?

Susan Morrow is an insomniac; can’t sleep at night even if she put her heart and soul into it unless sleeping pills are also popped in concert with that glass of water she’s just had. But Susan’s problems are not just confined to insomnia, her personal and professional life[she’s an art gallery owner] both have started feeling really dull and unsatisfactory to her. But things start changing when she receives a manuscript of a novel her ex-husband had been working on for some time. The name of the novel? Nocturnal Animals. As she starts reading the novel, she is drawn deeper and deeper into the story, to the point where she is so immersed that something happening in the outside world would startle her back to life.

This is how the movie starts off. Once Susan begins reading the novel, a new phase of the film begins; the film now keeps switching between Susan and the happenings in the novel she’s reading. In the novel, Tony Hastings is out with his wife Laura and their daughter India for a camping trip out in Western Texas. But during the night, an altercation between the holidaying family and a group of delinquents turns unsavory, and quickly the situation turns horribly wrong. So basically, on the one hand the viewer sees Susan leading her mundane life with the regular staff meetings and discussions and such; on the other hand a thriller is playing out with Tony trying his best to keep his family safe.

                                                            This guy is freakin’ intense…

The plot is pretty much on point here, and the way the two arcs are handled deserves special praise; nowhere does it feel like either one of them is dragging. Also the reminiscences Susan has about her past life, are also well melded into the storytelling. Also, the eerie atmosphere of the novel when contrasted with Susan’s elaborate living conditions, makes for some sudden but great transitions between the novel and real life. Acting deserves special mention in this film; my man Jake Gyllenhaal does it again, as he has done so so many times. His double act as the novelist ex-husband Edward Sheffield and the terrified  family man Tony Hastings makes for a great watch. So is Isla Fisher’s Laura, Tony’s wife in the novel. But my personal favorite in this film was Amy Adams, who played the insomnia-ridden Susan. She is amazing in every which way throughout the film. By the way, watch out for Aaron Taylor-Johnson too, he’s the X-factor for this movie. He’s the most psychopathic character I’ve seen since Jake’s Nightcrawler, I think.

So, what do I say? If you are a fan of psychological thrillers, then you’ll definitely love this film. Although I must say, Nocturnal Animals seems like a film which will lead to polarizing opinions from the viewers. Let me know how you felt about the film.

RATING : 8.8/10

PROS :
– plot progression is neat
– smooth transitions
– great acting all over
– mind-screw

CONS :
– not for everyone