Thursday, March 27, 2014

Games Review: Broken Age

Kickstarter has had a strange effect on the gaming industry over the last couple of years. The rise in Digital Distribution, especially on the PC, has allowed a hugely fun Indie scene to develop, but the additional of a robust (if not perfect) crowd-funding platform to the mix has lead to an explosion in games of all shapes and sizes, often, it seems, dominated by genres long abandoned by the big developers. Its a mixed blessing, in my opinion; I'm all for a bit of nostalgia, but often these genres lapsed for good reason, although its easy to forget in a gaming landscape so dominated by washed-out grey-brown man shooting other washed out grey-brown men whilst the game shouts at you to run to the next signpost. One of the biggest success stories of the early Kickstarter wave was Double Fine, promising a return to the great Point-and-click adventures of Yore, a game that became Broken Age.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

DVD of the Week: Elysium

Can we all just take a minute to remember how good District 9 was? It seemed to come out of nowhere, which a biting storyline, a great central character arc, real-world relevance and some brilliantly realised imagery. I was totally blown away, as were a whole lot of other people, so the anticipation around Elysium - promising much of the same - was pretty high. Of course, it came out and the reviews were, well, fine, I guess, so by the time we're getting to see it my expectations of a repeat of the jaw-dropping impact of District 9 was pretty diminished. Which in some ways is a good thing, because no, it's not as good as District 9, but does deserved to be assessed on it's own merits.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review: One Summer: America 1927

I'm not sure I can think of a writer who fits the term "Jack of All Trades" better than Bill Bryson. Starting out as a travel writer, over the last few years he's turned out books on a much wider range of subjects, all in the same conversation and subtly complex style. I've tended to find a pleasure in the simple act of reading Bryson, never mind the content itself, which is a rarer gift than you'd think, and the fact that many of his works favour breadth rather than depth shouldn't be held as a criticism so long as that breadth is done well. So long as it still says something. So with his new book, he is attempting to paint a portrait of a whole country, over one summer. And that's a lot of breadth.

Monday, March 17, 2014

DVD of the Week: The Heat

Usually, when I do one of these reviews, I try and grab a copy of the movie poster, or DVD cover to put up as a headline image, because, well, that seems like a sensible thing to do. You may only be dimly aware of any given movie, especially a year after it came out, but the posters tend to act as a visual reminder of the film, and who was in it. In the case of The Heat, it's also a reminder of how ridiculously dumbass Hollywood posters are getting in relation to women in the age of Photoshop, because according to most versions of the poster this films stars Sandra Bullock and who-the-hell-is-that-supposed-to-be-because-it-sure-ain't-Melissa-McCarthy. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

DVD of the Week: The Wolverine

It's been a sign of how busy the last couple of weeks have been that this weekend was our first movie night in while. I'd like to think that our Saturday night tradition came roaring back with a sure-fire winner, but rather we had The Wolverine, the lastest starring vehicle for Hollywood's favorite X-Man. Its not that I have anything against the character, but I do feel that the tendancy for him to be front-and-centre of the X-Movies is unbalancing for a such an ensemble franchise, and one of the things I liked about First Class was its lack of Wolverine, and one of my fears for Days of Future Past is his return, squeezing out the original focal character in the process. But you can't argue against Wolverine being the focus of a film called The Wolverine, so I guess I just have to judge it on it's own merits. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Games Review: King of Tokyo

One of the problems of getting older and having kids is that your free time gets heavily eroded. You get less, and what you do have tends to broken down into smaller, less predicable chunks. Its the price you pay for the great adventure that is parenthood, and to be honest I wouldn't change it for the world. But it has meant that, for the most part, my days epic gaming are behind me, as it gets harder to corral both the time and the people. On the plus side, one of the perks of parenthood is growing your own gaming partners, although it can take longer than "hey, whatcha doing next saturday?". It does mean that I'm always on the look out for games that appeal to a wide range of ages and abilities, without being either too dull, or too complex. In King of Tokyo, we found another winner.