GET EVEN

GET EVEN

I have always had something of a love-hate relationship with horror games. For example, I’m always excited to start up a new horror game, but then once I actually get down to playing it, I start getting way too tense and stuff; there have been times I just totally stopped playing a game just because I couldn’t handle the atmosphere; Amnesia : The Dark Descent and Outlast did that to me, among many others. I don’t even know how I managed to get to the end of F.E.A.R as well. So, with some trepidation, I booted up Get Even. Did I manage to complete it? Well, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this review, now, would I?

We play as the protagonist, Black, with almost no memories at all concerning recent events; the only thing he remembers is trying to save a teenage girl with a bomb strapped to her chest, and failing to rescue her. With a machine called the Pandora fixed to his head, Black tries to get back his memories, and in the process unravel the mystery of the girl. Throughout this journey Black is accompanied by a mysterious entity who calls himself “Red”. Who is this Red guy, and his Pandora tech? What is this abandoned asylum we’re stuck in? Especially considering it isn’t as abandoned as one would like to believe, with creepy, disturbing inmates for company? Lots of questions to start with, and no answers whatsoever. And thus we begin to go down the rabbit hole.

                                                  Goddamn spooky places…

Get Even is a first-person shooter game, so the first thing to deal with would be, how does the gameplay stand up? Well, I’m glad to say it holds up quite well, actually. It starts off as a traditional shooter fare, but with the difficulty ramped up a few notches more than usual. Enemies go down with 1-3 well-placed shots, but so do we. Stealthy gameplay is encouraged, and it is ideal to kill nobody along the way so as not to distort the memories we’re reliving. When we do have to go loud, the shooting mechanics hold up nicely. In addition, Black has a weapon called the CornerGun, one with the ability to, you guessed it, shoot around corners with the aid of a joint at the center of the weapon. With its help, one can chill in cover and still kill the enemies without poking our heads out, as often.

However, Black is more of a detective than a killing machine. For this purpose, he has a smartphone which is way smarter than the normal ones. It is equipped with myriad features such as an IR scanner and a UV device among others. The camera in the phone is also the chief way you get about gathering the required evidence, apart from reading newspaper cutouts and flyers lying around the place. Not just that, though; the camera also locates some irregularities in the memories, and can remove obstacles, put up new ones as cover, or open up shortcuts on the map. It also serves as Black’s gun scope when shooting up people. And at the end of the missions, we get to visit the Evidence Room where we get to view all the evidence we have collected, and this adds an element of replayability for the completionists among us, if they happened to miss some of the evidence during the first playthrough of the mission.

                                       Don’t underestimate this phone, bruh…

The game’s atmosphere is superb. As in, superbly bleak and moody, with dilapidated warehouses, the spooky asylum with the crazy inmates and whatnot. The environment sets up the mood brilliantly, and the soundtrack of the game is just godly. It varies all the way from western classical music to a k-pop type number which kicks in during a mission where stuff begins to go sideways. This soundtrack is quite possibly the best I’ve encountered among the newer games. Added to this, is the choice system in the game. Do you choose to go in guns blazing, or a silent, stealthy approach? Should you let that asylum inmate out of his cell or just leave him in there? These choices make more impact than one would expect.

Not to say that Get Even is completely devoid of flaws, though. First of all, the protagonist Black cannot jump; there are some small obstacles which you think you would easily be able to bypass, but Black can’t vault even the minutest of walls. Also the stealth part of the game could have been executed better; at the very least it could have been improved from being an avoid-the-vision-cones gameplay it ended up being, which seems too barebones in approach to me although it does get the job done.

But when viewed in an overall sense, it is evident that the positives far outweigh the negatives. Pick up Get Even if for nothing, then just to experience the story, which develops in a psychological-thriller style, which totally works for me as I am a hardcore fan of the genre.

RATING : 8.5/10

PROS :
– Great plot and progression
– Nifty plot devices
– Atmosphere and environment
– Godly soundtrack
– Choices dictate outcomes

CONS :
– stealth gameplay is meh
– guy can’t even jump

 

Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver (2017)

I don’t often watch movies, and certainly not right on the release date, preferring to instead spend my time gaming, or possibly watching anime or some good TV series. But this movie did rack up some talk, and I was free, even for my standards, so I thought, why not? Well, let’s get right down to the matter, and talk about how Baby Driver fares.

The protagonist’s name is Baby. Yes, you read that right, it’s Baby. So, what does he do? Baby works as a getaway driver for Doc, but is trying to get out of this stressful business. Why doesn’t he, you ask? Well, Baby happened to dump Doc’s merchandise on one occasion, and now Doc’s put him to work as the driver for all the heists he pulls off. Baby’s driving skills happened to be the only thing that saved him from taking a bullet to the head. And Baby comes with his own quirks. He’s always listening to music on his iPod, whether he’s just chilling at home with his foster dad or buying coffee for his heist mates or even during intense car chases where he’s drifting like crazy and pulling off 180-degree turns with a practised ease. Actually, his habit of listening to music started from his childhood itself, and was more of a necessity than anything else. When he was a kid, Baby was involved in an accident in which he lost both his parents and has since then been suffering from tinnitus, a condition in which the patient’s ears constantly ring. He uses music to drown out the noise.

One fine day, Baby meets a waitress at a coffee place and a love story begins between the two of them. And he’s also managed to pay off all that he owed Doc, by working as his driver for a bunch of heists. He now wants to get out of the nasty business he’s been embroiled in for so long, and lead a new life with his lover and his foster dad. But then he’s forced into participating in yet another heist by Doc, and this time round the odds seem a bit too long for the heist to succeed. Can Baby get out, once and for all, from this life of crime?

                                           So, that’s the plan. Baby, what do you think?

The story of Baby Driver is passable and gets the job done, for the most part. However, the plot progression has been achieved pretty well. However the movie drags a bit around the halfway mark, where the romance track kicks in. The action in this film is pretty slick, I must say. Chase scenes of all kinds were impeccably well done, and this is the shining point of Baby Driver. The car stunts are damn good, and makes you think about what The Fast and Furious series could have been, instead of the mindless set-piece montage it seems to have become. Another thing that was amazing, was the soundtrack of the film. It’s on point all the time; not only that, it also does a great job establishing Baby’s character. Watching the other thieves’ consternation at Baby’s seemingly carefree demeanor is always oddly satisfying. the humor is good too; and there is no overdose of it , a trap a lot of movies seem to fall into these days.

The acting in Baby Driver is pretty good, I would say. Ansel Elgort is awesome as the mostly-silent, music-loving Baby. CJ Jones as Baby’s deaf-and-dumb foster dad is good in his role; the silent banter between father and son is entertaining to witness. Kevin Spacey as the heist leader Doc, is witty and satirical, but underneath it all lies a menacing persona. A role he plays to perfection. Jamie Foxx as the volatile Bats is cool, and so are Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez as a pair of lovers robbing their way through the city. Lily James plays Deborah, Baby’s love interest, and does well too. But clearly, the standout performances come from Ansel and Kevin Spacey; it is their show throughout.

If you guys want to see something uber cool but somewhat grounded in reality, Baby Driver would be a good choice, in my opinion. If you happen to be going to the cinemas,better make Baby Driver the reason for this excursion.

RATING : 8.2/10 

PROS :
– Cool action sequences
– Humor is well done
– Ansel Elgort and Kevin Spacey are epic
– Awesome soundtrack

CONS :
– Plot is nothing special
– Film drags a bit during the middle part

 

Bayonetta

Bayonetta

Let me tell you guys in advance that I have been hoping against hope for ages that both the Bayonetta games would eventually release on PC, although the chances for this to happen seemed minuscule all along. But thankfully for me and many others who like hack-and-slash games like Devil May Cry, God of War and Darksiders among many others, this console gem has been released by Sega on PC at long last. So, how does this game, which initially released in 2009, compare to games of the present? And more importantly, is this game fun?

Bayonetta, first up, is the name of the titular character, a witch with some crazy amounts of power. The game begins with a chaotic fight against some angels alongside another witch atop a falling cliff-face. If that still doesn’t tell you about how much the game is filled to the brim with insane, over-the-top moments, fret not. This is just the beginning of Bayonetta, and believe me there’s loads more to witness. So, about the story then. Bayonetta is a leather-clad witch who has resurfaced(literally) from the depths of a lake about 20 years ago, after spending an unknown time in a slumber, of sorts. Presently, she works for some chap called Enzo, who’s basically leeching off of Bayonetta’s abilities to make money, and this is also how Bayonetta meets Rodin, who serves as the arms dealer and more through the duration of the game. basically,  she’s making her living by finishing off members of the angel clan and receiving some sort of payment from the denizens of hell. One day, Enzo comes to Bayonetta with rumors about The Eyes of the World, and that one of them is in a city called Vigrid[the other half is with Bayonetta and is in the form of a ruby-like gem].

To be fair, the story of Bayonetta does feel pretty random, like MGR : Revengeance level random, more so the farther in you go into the game, but this is somehow not a problem at all because of the rich world filled with angels to kill and some small puzzles to solve every now and then. The lore of this world is rich and fleshed out, with the player collecting pages of Antonio’s notebook, simply speaking, a way for the game to introduce to the player the world of Vigrid, the Light and Dark sides and such, around which the game revolves. For a game which came out about 8 years ago, the environments don’t look too dated and are sometimes pretty, even. The occasional excursions from Vigrid to Paradiso are welcome, with Paradiso filled with blooming meadows and clearings amongst flowerbeds, a visual treat.

But come on; nobody buys a hack-and-slash game to stand around and look at building architecture, or trees, god forbid. And that gets us all to the focal point of Bayonetta, which is combat. Basic attacks(punches and kicks) are bound to the two mouse buttons, and combos can be executed by mixing them up in various ways; a simple-seeming but effective way to make the game accessible to people like me who suck at hack-and-slash games. One key for jumps and another for dodging out of enemy attacks. Seems simple still, right? So what is so special about Bayonetta‘s combat? Well, when you dodge out of an incoming attack at the last possible moment, Witch Time is triggered; everything is in slo-mo[except us, of course] for about 3 seconds and one can more or less wreak havoc by executing devastating combos to delete the health-bars of enemies that consist of angels small and large[and larger still]. And later on in the game, one will come across some minor puzzles which involve using Witch Time in creative ways to get to the solution. Later on, Bayonetta also learns to shapeshift into a panther and a crow, which have also been well-incorporated into puzzle-solving. Coming back to combat, fighting for extended periods of time without taking any damage in return will help in filling up the magic gauge; when it is full, one can execute stylish finishers upon the press of a key, personalized for every distinct type of enemy, and god, are they epic. And the Wicked Weave, the most important damage dealer; Bayonetta uses her hair to launch extremely hard-hitting attacks at the end of her combos, and consistently landing these Wicked Weaves helps in depleting the enemies way faster.

                                                         Told you guys she used her hair…

But all of this seems small when compared to Bayonetta’s bossfights. The bosses are humongous in size, but no one is infallible, especially when faced with Bayonetta and her twin pistols. And this is really where the impact of Witch Time really shines through, because the bosses, being bosses, delete chunks of health with every hit they score on you, and in later part of the game you better not get stuck in their combos, because they tend to be somewhat long and take a toll on your health. So better bring your dancing shoes to the ball, and be light on your feet. Even so, you will be scurrying around injecting health-giving shots and sucking on lollipops to buff your damage and magic gauge levels.

The story is random, I would say, but the characters? Not quite. In fact, they are some of the most interesting characters I’ve seen in games in recent times. Bayonetta is equal parts playful and stylish, and even her combat style, filled with elegance and style, fits this perfectly. Like a hand in a glove, if I were to say so myself. Enzo is the kind of scumbag lowlife who often gets stuck in situation too far outside his zone of control, so you do feel sorry for him when the action breaks out, and he’s stuck in the middle with bullets flying left and right all around him. Rodin[pronounced Radin, for whatever reason], is a man who’s made a deal with the devil, or so it seems, and sells us some really good stuff to help us along in our adventures, right from his bar called The Gates of Hell. We later on come into contact with three pivotal characters who I cannot reveal for the sake of preserving the…thrill, I guess? It feels better to experience it rather than me spilling the beans about them, at any rate.

                                                             This boss is nothing…

But the game is not without its weaknesses. This game was made by PlatinumGames, the guys who also made MGR : Revengeance among others, and guess what? Both games have cutscenes the size of bosses which Bayonetta fights. There were times when I would just sit and watch a cutscene unfold over 10-15 minutes, after which I would fight for maybe around 10 minutes, and then back to screen-watching. It thankfully doesn’t get too annoying because of the entertaining characters and their banter; also these cutscenes often tend to go way, way over-the-top; sometimes the dialogues get cheesy in a funny way which also helps. But of course, you’re raring to get back into the fight, aching to show them angels their place, so one will tend to get a tad impatient through them cutscenes. Another niggle I have with the game is the generous littering of Quick Time Events; I’m sure as hell that at least a third of my deaths could have been avoided if not for these QTEs. Well, at least the set-pieces are insanely bombastic.

The game clocks in at 14-16 hours, depending on how good you are at this kind of games; not a short game by any means, either way. Coupled with the fact that you will be having fun every step of the game, I would say this was a time well spent. So, if I happened to be too subtle about my opinion of Bayonetta, let me iterate, once and for all : just play it!

RATING : 9.5/10

PROS :
– Combat system is on point
– Endearing characters
– Witch Time is used brilliantly, for both combat and puzzles
– Finishers are godly
– Epic bossfights
– Crazy end credits!

CONS :
– Long cutscenes
– Too many QTEs

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