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

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 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; 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

 

AJIN [SEASON 2]

AJIN [SEASON 2]

The second season of Ajin finished airing just about ten days ago. Those of you who haven’t yet caught up on the anime after the season one cliffhanger, get ready to jump on the hype train! [Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen S1]

So the first season ended with Nagai Kei and his new companion Nakano Kou making a break and escaping the clutches of Tosaki and Shimomura. And in the meantime, Satou has issued an ultimatum to the Japanese government to include provisions for ajin to be treated as normal human beings, and to stop using them as guinea pigs for experimentation. The alternative being that Satou and his fellow ajin go after 15 officials who are the main culprits regarding this matter. The second season picks up from there, with Satou beginning to make good on his promise. On the other end, Nagai and Nakano want to stop Satou from executing his master plan, but they are severely lacking on manpower. Nagai comes up with the idea of pairing up with one of the main officials in secret so that this issue ceases to remain an issue anymore. And guess who that is… Tosaki himself!

Image result for ajin satou

                                                                  Way too OP…

The story is pretty fast paced, as it was in the first season. And it doesn’t waste time in pleasantries of any sort. The action keeps moving from Satou’s perspective to that of Nagai and Tosaki, and these switches have been handled well, so that the viewer is not distracted in the least. And as it was in the previous season, the action scenes are amazing; especially the ones where Satou goes berserk in killing people, they are truly badass moments in the show. The characters have been further developed, and some backstory for Tosaki and Shimomura comes in too. Nagai and Co. are great, no doubt about that. But my favorite character would be Satou, as is only to be expected. The guy says so many awesome things in his trademark nonchalant style; the writers did a fantastic job with this particular role. It’s as if he is the anime version of Vaas from FarCry 3. And just in case you don’t know this guy, let’s just say he is still the best villain I’ve seen in a game yet.

The only real issue with Ajin is the same as it was with the first season; the frame rates. I know that the production crew decided to do it the hard way and make it a 3D animated show, and I laud them for it. The actions are remarkably human-like, as a result. But more than occasionally, you’re left trying to see if you can differentiate one frame from another during some of the quieter moments of the show. Other than that, the show is pretty slick.

In conclusion, I would personally recommend Ajin to anyone who watches anime, and have done it on numerous occasions already. If for nothing else, just for the amazingly haunting background score that plays at the beginning and end of each episode…

RATING : 9/10

PROS :
– good plot pacing
– action scenes are even cooler
– amazing background score
– Satou-san OP
– improved 3DCG

CONS :
– frame rate is still a bit unsatisfactory

 

 

 

 

 

The Chaser(2008)

The Chaser(2008)

I have said it before, and I will say it again; Korean films are a blast to watch. Not because they are entertaining or fun; no one who has seen movies like Memories of Murder or Oldboy will say anything contrary to my statement. No, they are a blast because they are really intense pieces of art, which will make you question everything and assume not a single thing. Or maybe it’s just my awesome choice at picking out the cream of the Korean offerings, but anyways. Let’s get into The Chaser now, without further ado.

The film begins with the former Task Force detective-turned-pimp sending out one of his girls for business, if you know what I mean. But the guy is also getting paranoid about his state of affairs, as two of his call girls have quite probably just escaped without giving him any information of their whereabouts. He wants to tighten up his protocol to ensure these incidents do not repeat in the future. Unluckily, the girl who the pimp has just sent out, is also on her way to meet him. I don’t think I will be able to tell you readers any more about the plot, as some key details might be spoilt for those of you who wish to see the film. But I can assure you of one thing; it is pretty twisted and messed-up on a different level.

                                                                           The chase is on!

This is a different kind of film from the normal, as we already know the antagonist at the outset itself. Something I haven’t often seen in the suspense thriller genre. The screenplay ought to be tight, which is a requirement for this type of film, and thankfully the film delivers on that front. Also, this is quite possibly the Korean film with the fastest pacing I’ve seen yet. And the acting is spot-on, I must say. All the characters are fully fleshed out, from the pimp to the antagonist to the call girl and her kid daughter, to the police.  It is as if they are living in their roles. That might seem a bit cliche, but that is god’s honest truth. And the story is based on some real-life events, which honestly does throw up some red flags about the existence of hope in this world. This is some really depressing shit.

Overall, I’d say this: if you have watched a few Korean film, chances are you’ve watched this already. If you haven’t, guess what; it’s time for you to do yourself a favor already. And those of you who don’t[or haven’t yet] watched Korean suspense thrillers yet, this is a great way to initiate yourself into it.

RATING : 9.7/10

PROS :
– top-notch acting
– insane pacing
– pretty dark and disturbing

CONS :
– may be too dark for some

 

GINTAMA [SEASON 6]

GINTAMA [SEASON 6]

The sixth season of this long-running show of hilarity : that is what we’ll be reviewing in this post. Or is it? Read on to find out more.

The anime begins with Gintoki taking off away from his Odd Jobs mates Shinpachi and Kagura, and returns with a hangover. But seems like he’s had a bit too much of drink this time round, because he’s greeted by his two friends as a customer to Odd Jobs, rather than its head. And the even bigger surprise is that the head is not Gintoki, but Kintoki, a naturally straight-haired guy, with golden hair to boot, to contrast with Gintoki’s silver. And so we know now that the show we’re watching is actually Kintama. Too bad for you, suckers! Anyway, this is how the new season starts off, with Gintoki put in quite a spot, and no one recognizing him for what he is.

                                                  Whoops, this is from a new show Mantama…

The new season is only 13 episodes long, which sucks for all Gintama fans, but whatever is there, is awesome indeed. This time around Gintama has three story arcs and one standalone episode making up the contents. But contrary to the usual, this season all the arcs are much more serious in tone than before. But not to worry; where there is Gintoki&Co., there is always an enormous potential for hilarious, out-of-the-world screw-ups, whether metaphorical or literal. And also, one of the arcs does give us some more insight about Shinpachi and Otae’s past lives.

And now for my mandatory recommendation to readers of this post to watch Gintama, as I’ve been doing since I’ve started watching the goddamn show. Watch it already!

RATING : 9.3/10

PROS :
– some backstory on Shinpachi and Otae
– more serious story arcs

CONS :
– only 13 episodes, damn…