Review: How to Train Your Dragon 3

I, like many people, have enjoyed the first two installments mostly due to the main attraction of the saga – the adorable Toothless the dragon. Having seen both previous films and enjoying the first one quite a bit, but finding the second one still enjoyable but mostly forgettable, I simply expected the third film to be more of the same. Essentially, this is exactly what we got.

I don’t have very much bad to say about How to Train Your Dragon 3 – just that it has stopped catering to adults and children alike and seems solely interested in giving the kids a good time, without worrying too much about how much of the plot makes sense, or strong character arcs, or anything else that might bog down the fun of the film. Sure, it would make it a lot more interesting and profound, but all of that goes over the heads of the 12 and under market so why bother?

As mentioned, the films major gripes are that the plot doesn’t make any sense and nothing feels like it has any direction or real weight to it. Of course, this is a kid’s film, so why would I expect this? Well, quite simply I have seen other big studios create films that are massively enjoyable for all audiences, not just the children. For example, Pixar’s’ classic films Toy Story (all 3) The Incredibles, Monsters Inc.  and many more all feel much weightier and much more fun than this movie ever does, not to mention stop motion brilliance form Studio Laika, with the wonderful Coraline and the masterpiece that is Kubo and the two strings. I have been a little spoilt for quality in recent years is what I am saying, but that is not to say that films that so desperately want to appeal to all markets cannot learn from these.  I think that with a little more thought and fewer plot holes, this would have been a much better story and would have kept me a bit more invested.

For example, the main plot point is that the Viking clan are trying to keep dragons as pets, while also keeping them safe from poachers that are trying to hunt down and capture or kill the dragons. Our main villain comes along (whose name I have already forgotten) and he vows to kill every last dragon, specifically of the Night Fury race, (Toothless) however at no point does he ever attempt to actually kill Toothless or the “Light Fury” – an all-white female counterpart of Toothless – he simply tranquilises them and tries to capture them alive. I spent the whole movie wondering why this ruthless evil killer does not try and kill any of the dragons at any point. As I never spoil anything in my reviews, I can’t go into too much detail but the movie was full of plot holes like this.

I did, of course, find that the animation quality is superb, as it always is with DreamWorks studios, and there were some stunning scenes of beautiful landscaped and epic sea battles to feast your eyes upon. I also did enjoy some of the funnier moments of the film, mostly from Toothless, who is the star of the show as always. I couldn’t help but chuckle out loud as he tries to perform his own little mating dance to try and impress the Light Fury, but ends up looking a bit silly in the process. As Toothless’s movements and mannerisms are based heavily on that of a cat, he spends most of his screen time either being adorable, funny, or adorably funny, which does leave you feeling a bit like he belongs on a YouTube compilation video, or on the r/Awww subreddit.  I also admire the film for its cast of somewhat off-kilter characters as it’s always refreshing to see large, round, hairy, ginger Vikings with glorious beards, as opposed to the same cookie cutter tall dark and handsome types. I was also a fan of the fantastic voice acting, and the great casting of Scotland’s finest (Craig Ferguson’s voice never gets old) as well as a mish-mash of American and English talents (Kit Harrington, TJ Miller) who all do a stand-up job. 

Overall How to Train Your Dragon is an enjoyable movie which I certainly had fun with, however, if you think about it too hard you will find plenty of faults with it. There are better animations out there, but this film does a good job of being safe and fun for the little ones.

Score: 6/10

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My board gaming life begins…

I have always been a fan of video games since I was old enough to hold a controller, however, most of these were single player solo games, which I always enjoyed as I am quite a shy, solitary persona and have always preferred to be on my own most of the time. However, my boyfriend is a big tabletop gamer and has introduced me to a fair few games over the last couple of years – so much so that we have started having regular board game nights and have even started a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. It is a great excuse for me to become more sociable and vocal, as communication is key in most of these games. We even tend to take small party type games to social gatherings, birthdays and Christmases and the like. I thought I would give a quick run-down of some of my favourite games and my experience with them.

Dungeons and Dragons

This is an all-time classic adventure game, as it entails a lot of improvisation and imagination, however, the freedom and creativity are something I have always admired and given my love of performing arts, was a bit of a bucket list item for me. I initially started by getting together with a couple of other friends who had never played before and an experienced Dungeon Master to guide us through our first campaign. Now we have our own DM and are in the middle of our second campaign. My expectations were mainly stemmed from pop culture, the stereotypical nerd flipping through stat tables and penciling in modifiers on character sheets. Nowadays D&D is a lot more technologically advanced as there are apps available to help you build your characters, and most major manuals/codex are available in PDF form rather than buying huge bulky books. There are also pre-set beginner campaigns to guide you through your first D&D experience, and a lot of resources are available for free online meaning it has never been easier to get started. This just helps to make the game all the more accessible and extremely portable too, which is great as sometimes it is hard getting a group of adults who work full-time jobs together on a regular basis. I mostly love that no two campaigns are ever the same and each time playing is always a fun and unique experience. This is still considered the granddaddy of all tabletop games due to its timeless play style and will be for generations to come.

Pandemic

This game is one that most gamers have a love/hate relationship with. Pandemic is challenging to say the least but is enormously rewarding when you finally do beat it. This is a co-operative game that requires everyone to work together to control an outbreak of several deadly viruses across the world, but the steaks are high as the viruses spread very quickly and the players can only be in so many places at once. This game requires skill, strategy, and communication, but will feel euphoric if you manage to overcome the obstacles and beat one of the most brutal board games on the market. I had heard of how hard it could be to beat the game, and my first playthrough did end in tragedy – however, my second playthrough with a different group did end in successfully clearing the board of all viruses, which one of the other players mentioned that they had played far more games than me and that never won a single one until that day. This led to some desperate moments and some truly inventive strategies to just barely scrape a victory, as time is also of the essence.

Dead of Winter

This is probably my favourite of what I have played so far, probably due to the very survival horror-esque gameplay which is my favourite video game genre to play as well.  Dead of Winter is a co-op game also, the objective is to survive winter without starving to death while surviving a zombie apocalypse. One of the features I like most is that the players are given a morale meter, that ends in a game over if it reaches 0. It provides an extra challenge as well as having to keep an eye on food and fuel resources, as you can lose morale if one of the player’s characters dies, if a character is currently starving, or even in special events triggered by cards. Each player controls multiple characters, and each one has their own strengths and special abilities to keep gameplay varied and interesting. If a character dies, the player remains in the game as long as they have at least one other character to control. Another great feature is the event cards – special story triggers relating to the characters that are in play, most of the time these are spawning new enemies, making a difficult decision that could help or hinder the group, or even individual characters past coming back to haunt them. I remember one such card revealed that my character used to be a drug addict, and when they get injured and take medication it causes them to relapse. The other players must make a decision to try and facilitate the characters drug use to keep him alive, or to exile him from the group and more or less guarantee his death. It is this wonderfully creative storytelling that helps build the world and atmosphere and makes each playthrough so unique and interesting.

King of Tokyo

So, this game is a much shorter and more fun than the previous ones, as there are a few over the top elements that make it a bit of a party game for a relaxed and enjoyable experience. I have played this game a couple of times now and each time I have always enjoyed myself, even though I have ever actually won a full game. The objective is simple, you control a creature/monster and you must gain 20 victory points to become the king of Tokyo. You battle against other players to keep control of Tokyo as much as possible to steadily earn points, while your opponents will battle you to try and kick you out of the city and steal your limelight. If your monster dies, you are out of the game, but you gain the most points by being inside Tokyo as long as possible. However, it is also possible to earn points by utilising a special card that allows you to gain a point for every time you gain a certain amount of energy (used as currency) for example. King of Tokyo certainly does have some funny cartoonish elements, the monsters you control range from a cyber bunny mech to a giant gorilla (not unlike King Kong) and you can buy abilities that allow you to screw over the other players at the most inopportune moment. This is a great game for parties and daft nights round a mate’s to pass the time, I recommend for anyone including kids!

Marvel’s Legendary

I only played this game one and only quite recently, but being a fan of the Marvel movies and comics, I thought this game would be fun and entertaining after watching a playthrough on an episode of TableTop on YouTube. This is another player co-op game, where the players control the Hero team and must stop the Villain mastermind from hatching his evil plot. Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s definitely a bit more challenging than it seems, as the villain has an ever-growing team of henchmen to kidnap hostages, attack your heroes and get in your way as much as possible. The players must work together to build a strong team of heroes, starting with the agents of shield and using these cards as foot soldiers or to go “shopping” for stronger heroes when their cards come up at random. I loved that there are twists to each villain to keep things interesting, for example, if you come across Venom as a villain, he can only be defeated by a hero from the Spiderman universe, meaning you must “buy” as many Spiderman cards as possible to help you defeat him before he flees the city and helps the villain complete his objective by earning him a point. Similarly, the heroes have special perks to help them team up – for example, Hawkeye has an ability that allows him to deal extra damage if he has another Avenger in the same deck. There are a few strategies you can use similar to these and when you pull them off, you do feel like a genuine team of heroes working together to save the day.

I think these are a kind of informal top 5 if you will, but I am still relatively new to this and there are piles of game in our spare room that we have yet to play, so of course I will keep you all updated and post my thoughts and experiences as and when I get around to playing them. If anyone would like to recommend any games at all, feel free to comment and I’ll pop it on the list. In the meantime have fun!!

Review: Alita: Battle Angel

So, let me just start by saying that I had somewhat mixed expectations going into this film, however being directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron, I had high hopes for this. Thankfully, I think this film was an absolute blast and definitely worth seeing. I happened to notice after leaving the cinema that the reviews for this film were on the poor side, which I actually thought were utter tosh. I have no idea why critics are so harsh on films of this nature, but This movie exceeded my expectations and I had a fun experience.

I’ll mention that there are a couple of things that I wasn’t a fan of – mostly the romance subplot between Alita and Hugo. It felt rather shoe-horned in and disingenuous, and in all honestly rather cheesy at times. I think perhaps given a more mature relationship or better dialogue, this could have been much better but it did feel a bit too ‘tween romance’ for my liking. It also didn’t help that not a lot of time passed from Alita and Hugo meeting until the end of the movie, which gave it a bit of a Romeo and Juliet feel.

I also thought that the movie suffers from the typical origin story problems, having to cram in so much exposition and introduce characters and sub-plots, that it feels like it’s trying to do too much at once and takes a little while to truly get going. Although this doesn’t bog the film down massively as it is all important information, it does mean that there is a long stretch in the first act before we get any real action, and the first 45 minutes or so is mostly dialogue, but again, this is something that is necessary with an origin story for a Sci-Fi/Action film of this nature.

There is certainly a lot to love though, I absolutely have to praise the visuals because this is simply one of the best-looking movies I have ever seen. It is rumored that this film had a budget of £200 million which has clearly gone onto the CGI because the movie contains around 1500 visual effect shots. That is insane. Alita absolutely blows Avatar out of the water with its wonderful effects (and in my opinion Avatar is overrated anyway) and the sheer amount of detail in every shot is astounding. There are huge set pieces such as the awesome Motor Ball shots (a type of roller-skating/basketball/robot wars sporty thingy) as well as a massive floating city and huge brawls with multiple ten-foot cyborgs. This is every Sci-Fi nerds dream, keeping the wonderfully weird character design that is pivotal to anime and manga while making it feel live action – even the small details don’t go amiss, sparks fly off of the cyborgs rollerblades, the light that shines through the gaps in Alita’s finger joints, the engraved patterns on the limbs of the cyborgs, even individual pores on her face are beautifully rendered.

The world is intriguing and unique, with a very cool mixture of old 20th-century ruins and a futuristic steampunk aesthetic, with a great contract of beautiful scenery with a dirty, poor feel to Iron City. I loved that the film gives you a bit of history and explains why the world looks the way it does; a great war sparked an industrial revolution that separated the rich and powerful from the poor, working class, meaning everything that is deemed old and useless in Zalem, the sky city, is tossed down to Iron City and the letter is treated like a junkyard of the former. I thought this allowed a great level of appreciation for the aesthetic as well as just looking cool and futuristic, as it tends to be a bit of a movie trope that any futuristic setting must be all white, incredibly clean and have cool touchpad buttons on everything.

It was my opinion that the all-star cast was great and gave very convincing performances, yet some of the dialogue did let them down a bit (Mostly Alita’s regrettably). I loved Mahershala Ali’s portrayal of the big bad, (he even looked like the spitting image of Wesley Snipes’ Blade in certain scenes) and Jenifer Connolly’s role as a conflicted grieving mother went over well. However, the shining light is for sure Christoph Waltz as Dr. Dyson Ido, a cyborg engineer and grieving father who develops a father/daughter relationship with Alita that is very touching and feels incredibly heartfelt and genuine. Hopefully, this film gets a sequel and we get to see this relationship develop even more, as well as having Alita herself mature and grow into a stronger character.

Overall, I feel that Alita: Battle Angel is an absolute must-see for any fans of Sci-Fi, action and even YA romance/rebellion. It’s a visually breath-taking experience probably best seen in 3D if possible, and a brilliantly fun moviegoing experience, if you don’t mind a bit of cheesy romance and a bit of a dialogue-heavy start. This movie deserves a sequel and I hope it does well enough to earn one given its massive budget and mixed reviews.

Score: 8/10

Review: Glass

Yes, the sequel to the incredible Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2016) has finally dropped and being a massive fan of Unbreakable, I was so excited to see what this trilogy had in store. The original was M. Night Shyamalan’s masterpiece in my opinion (better than Sixth Sense!) and I loved James McAvoy’s mesmerising performance in Split, so at the end of the latter when it was revealed that the two films were connected and that a third film would be coming in 2019, I lost my mind a little.

Having said that I do feel that Glass was a bit of a let down compared to the other two, mostly due to some odd choices with the plot and some major pacing issues that bogged the film down a fair bit for me. Of course, I won’t spoil anything here, but everyone knows that M. Night Shyamalan films come with a twist of some sort – it’s kind of his thing. I just wasn’t a fan of the twist and felt that it made the final act of the film weird and needlessly complicated, although I can kind of see what he was aiming for. It was certainly a bold move but not one that paid off in my eyes.

I do feel that the films first act is by far the strongest, as this felt closest to what I expected of the movie going in and contained the characters in their own environment, being themselves and showing off their powers in cool ways. The dangerous triangle of David, Kevin and Elijah is an interesting one and something that could have been much more interesting had they kept with the general feel of the first act.  I also loved that they have recast the original actors from Unbreakable and Split, including David’s son Joseph, who plays a great role here. They have also stuck with the very comic book style colourisation, with each major character having a colour to represent them; Green for David, Purple for Elijah and Yellow for Kevin. Each major character has a support as such, someone who they are closest too and these characters also represent these colours – starting small at first but as the movie goes on and they realise the power the main trio holds, they become brighter and bolder, a very clever touch.

The films second act is where I feel it was the weakest, which is where the 3 main characters are sent to an asylum of sorts, and a psychiatrist is assigned to ‘cure’ them of their delusions. Because most of this act involves the characters being sat in a cell, not able to physically do very much while the doctor whittles away at their beliefs, trying to convince them they are not super powered, this is too much of a contrast from the great opening act and does not make for a very interesting impediment. This act also takes up the most run time, and while there are some cool moments here and there, it is largely dull and uninteresting.

This is also one of the big sour notes of the movie, as I felt trying to plant the doubts in the characters (and the audiences) minds feels like a moot point, as we have SEEN what they can do both earlier in the film and in the previous two installments. The trio’s support characters also share this belief and spend a fair amount of time trying to convince the doctor that they are not delusional – especially David’s son Joseph. Given that Joseph believed in his father’s powers before even David did, and was so convinced he was indestructible that he almost shot him, shows the strength of his beliefs. We also learn that he has spent most of his adult life helping his father on his vigilante missions, acting as his back up, so why on earth would he, of all the characters, doubt his father’s powers are real? Given the violent shift in plot from the second act to the third, I felt this large section of the story was poorly paced and wasted on an already believing audience.

However, the main strength of Glass for me was the performances of all the main characters. In particular, James McAvoy’s Kevin Crumb was spectacular, and had this been a more successful film perhaps would have qualified him for some award nominations. He portrays a character who suffers from DID – Dissociative Identity Disorder, or multiple personalities. The challenge of the character comes from the severity of the condition as Kevin has 23 different personalities. Watching McAvoy shift seamlessly from one personality to another is mesmerising and incredibly well done and sometimes just through subtle movements and mannerisms, you can tell which personality he is inhabiting which is a testament to the strength of his character work.  

Something I admired about all three films was the overall theme of comic books – of course being a nerd I do enjoy this theme anyway, but given it’s ties to the plot and character progression, I feel this is very well done. In particular, Unbreakable felt like a thriller disguised as a superhero movie and I love that the comic book tropes were carried over into Glass as well.

Overall, I do think that Glass was certainly not a bad experience, but in comparison to the previous two stellar films, this felt like a movie of conflicting values and plot. Perhaps this would have fared better with a different ending, or simply if it wasn’t tied to the previous films and was a standalone movie with fresh characters? I recommend if you have watched Unbreakable and Split, to go in with an open mind and hopefully not having watched the trailers as this does allow for some misleading expectations. Regardless, this was still a fun experience if a little slow-paced, with a great moral to the story.

Score: 6/10

First Impressions: Resident Evil 2 Remake

[Don’t worry, this post is spoiler free]

So I am a huge fan of the Resident Evil franchise and RE2 is one of my favourite games of all time. I have played this game since it was first released back in 1998 and I have completed it so many times I have lost count. I know this game inside and out, can speed run it in under 2 hours with an A rank and still play it on my PS1 to this day. Believe me when I say I was hyped as fuck for this game.

My expectations were a little high due to the fantastic job Capcom did with the Gamecube remake of the original Resi Evil back in 2002, but so far having completed Leon and Claire’s A scenario (1st run In the remake) and halfway through Leon’s B scenario (2nd Run) I am overjoyed to say – this game is amazing.

The 1998 version has a lot of content; 4 main scenarios, a 4th survivor mode, and even a battle mode in the Japanese release. So far, I can see the 4 main scenarios are in there, and its confirmed that 4th survivor is in the game, although I have yet to unlock this, meaning that it so far seems to match the content which was one of my worries, as nowadays so much contact is locked behind season passes and DLC. The overall quality of the game is insane, it feels like a heft AAA release and has been given a full overhaul, rather than just an improvement in graphics. There are entirely new areas created as well as huge expansions on the original maps. The level of violence and gore has been escalated too, with plenty of graphic contact and bloody moments to shock and appall. The voice acting is far superior to the admittedly ‘so bad it’s good’ style of the original, even if (in my opinion) Ada’s voice doesn’t quite suit her.

Again, comparing this to the GC remake, it feels like the same game that veteran fans know and love, yet has been expanded on just enough to feel fresh and keep us on our toes. One of the main reasons for a remake is to help revitalise a stale franchise, as well as to help new players or a younger generation get into a decades-old franchise. This absolutely achieves both, as the story now makes more sense and the events of the outbreak take a more prominent role in the game (as opposed to just being files etc). The survival horror aspect is still incredibly strong, as one of my big worries was that the game would be too action orientated or too easy to pander to modern audiences, but I was gratefully proven wrong. The level of challenge on standard mode (though I was tempted by hardcore) is the perfect amount to feel like a struggle, but not so much that it hinders progress or feels frustrating. Haven seen how difficult hardcore is I’m so glad I did not choose this for my first playthrough, as the enemies are so strong that one hit can put the player into danger, whereas on the standard mode you can take one or sometimes even two hits before hitting caution. I do love that this mode disables autosaves and you can only save using ink ribbons and a typewriter, and the ink ribbons are limited. I can completely understand why this is reserved for the hardcore mode given the overall challenge of the game, but think this is a great way of challenging seasoned players.

I am very aware that with a franchise like RE with such a dedicated fanbase, it can be very difficult to please the majority as we are all different in what we love about the series as a whole, some people want ,more modern experiences and find our favourite games to be like that of RE5 and RE6, others are hard core veterans and we love the original trilogy and just want to see this lovingly recreated as is, and others want a more online based co-op survival experience as in the outbreak and mercenaries spin off games. All in all, RE2 Remake does a fantastic job of catering to most fans, and has the potential for great online modes in the coming DLC.

The most important aspect of the game is the survival horror element, a genre that has been slowly dying off over the years since the glory days of the late 90’s and is in my opinion, the absolute core of all resident evil games. Thankfully, this makes a glorious return and is by far the best thing about the entire game. Ammo is incredibly scarce as are healing items, last I counted there are 3 First Aid Sprays in the entire game, but herbs are a bit more plentiful. There are 4 weapons for each character depending on their proficiency – Each character gets a handgun as a starting weapon and 3 special weapons exclusive to them, however there are variants on the handguns and most weapons are upgradeable, allowing for a nice smooth difficulty curve as the combat gets a little tougher towards the end of the game. This also adds a lot of variety as each weapon has strengths and weaknesses dependant on the situation, for example handguns are best for zombies as they require precise headshots or leg shots to tagger them, whereas the shotgun works great for Cerberus and lickers as they are the faster enemy and need much more stopping power. The player is given about 50% of their ammo in the form of gunpowder, which they must mix themselves to create the ammo type they require, which gives a lot of strategic freedom to the player.

The horror element is absolutely fantastic too, most notably the atmosphere as every corridor or room is lit perfectly to provide a sense of security or dread. The soundtrack, or lack thereof in certain places lends to the air of tension and fear, and has some great nods to the original too. The gore is back and in new disgusting form and the Birkin transformations are horrific to say the least. There are plenty of heart-stopping moments that make you gasp in shock whilst simultaneously thinking “Holy fuck that is fricken’ cool!”

Of course, no game is perfect, but thankfully the few downsides are just personal nit-picks of mine. I suppose the lighting in some areas is a little too dark, and can make it a little hard to see even with the torch. I’m not sure I like the voice for Ada, as I’m used to her always having a rather sultry, deep voice in past games whereas she’s a little high pitched here. I also think it would have been nice to see Leon and Claire’s journey intertwine a little more toward the end of the game as we don’t see or hear from them for quite a long period. However none of this affects the overall quality of the game and is just a few things I would have liked to have seen personally.

Overall, I have really enjoyed this game and think I will be spending many more hours to come trying to platinum the game. It is an instant classic of the modern era and completely achieves its goal of bringing a survival horror masterpiece into the modern age.

Score: 10/10

Why AEW is the best thing to happen to modern wrestling

Yes, I am a wrestling nerd too…kind of.

I recently got into pro wrestling when my boyfriend started watching WWE again after not having seen anything since the attitude era ended. I was aware of some of the more famous wrestlers of the time (The Rock, Stone Cold, Taker etc.) however did not watch any TV or Pay Per Views. We both started watching around the time that AJ Styles made his debut at Royal Rumble 2016, perhaps a little before then, but nonetheless, I am certainly new to the entertainment wrestling industry. So, I am a little biased when I say that the introduction of All Elite Wrestling is the best thing to happen to the modern era of pro wrestling. Let me break it down a bit…

First – the talent. I watched the short but sweet press conference in Jacksonville, and boy was I surprised. I expected one or two announcements, but there were a plethora of things to get most excited about. One of the biggest problems facing wrestling – WWE in particular- is the wasted talent that sits backstage week after week while the same old wrestlers take the spotlight. This has been a problem for years, decades even, as the corporations tend to have ‘the guy’ that they want to push on us particularly hard. This is usually a person with a certain look and message (E.G. John Cena, Roman Reigns) that the big kahunas at the top love, probably because they make a good face for the company and are very advertiser or sponsor friendly. However, this means that anyone who is not on their watch list gets swept under the rug and forgotten about regardless of their talent, charisma or work ethic. See guys like Tyler Breeze, Tye Dillinger, and even people like Shinsuke Nakamura or Rusev who have previously been great in other brands or developmental.  

Getting to the point, AEW has a lot of chins wagging about snapping up some of this underused and overlooked talent, in order to shine a spotlight on them and give them chance to show what they can really do. This is incredibly promising as there are so many people out there, myself included, who still watch sub-par shows like WWE Raw because they want a chance to see their favourite stars. If most of my favourite starts happen to be appearing on AEW… well let’s say that doesn’t leave much reason to keep tuning in to Raw does it?

Secondly – the Boss. Cody Rhodes is one of NJPW’s most prized assets, and for good reason. The man can go with the best of them, he oozes charisma and clearly has a good head for business. He is backed by joint owners Matt and Nick Jackson, also known as the Young Bucks, who is possibly one of the best tag teams in the industry. Never before has a company been spearheaded by a wrestler with such experience, and someone who is in the prime of their career. He truly is doing this “for the fans” as he says, and his actions prove it. His wife Brandi, who has been given the title of Chief Brand Officer, confirmed in Jacksonville that there will be no gender pay gap and women will receive the same treatment as men. It is refreshing to know that Cody and co, are very tuned in to what the fans cherish about a promotion, and they obviously value our opinions. It is imperative that promotions give the fans what they want, (to a certain extent anyway) and always make sure to keep us wanting more.  This is such a refreshing turn after watching a promotion that clearly hears what the fans are saying, but chooses to turn their back and ignore the criticism because they already have their TV deal, who cares what we think because they will make money either way?

Let’s not forget the most important thing of all – All In. If there is any indication of the success if this promotion, look no further than All In. It was a huge success and smashed the goal they set out to meet. The event sold out in under 30 minutes for a venue of 10,000 – considering that even Dave Meltzer of the wrestling observer said they would never fill capacity, they really proved what hard work and a good work ethic can achieve. The number of naysayers that tried to say the event was too indie or didn’t have enough star power to pull the numbers, pre and post All In speaks volumes. All the negativity and doubt surrounding AEW has dissipated and all that remains now is hope that this promotion can do what they say they can.

The expectations are through the roof for these guys, and I cannot wait to see what they do to revolutionise the industry. This is going to be a promotion for the fans, and ill probably be posting more thoughts on the situation in the run-up to their very first event in Las Vegas in May.

Top 10 Games of 2018

First of all, Merry Christmas to all and a happy 2019! This year has been an absolute belter for games, and I have still got so many to play through even now. If only I could quit my job and play games 24/7… that’s the dream. Anyhoo, I have made a top 10 list but be warned, this is only limited to games I have played. Let’s begin!

10. Sonic Mania

I’ll be honest, i have yet to finish Sonic Mania, which is why its so far down this list. However i have to give it props for being the game that revitalised the Sonic franchise, and gave us the best sonic game since…err…Sonic 3? Nonetheless, this game was everything we could have wanted, a perfect love letter to the classic era of Sonic and the ultimate nostalgia trip.

9. Dragon Ball Fighterz

I’m not usually a big fan of fighting games, I tend to stick to my Tekken and Mortal Kombat for the most part, but this game really blew me away. The insane pace and super smooth controls made this game very easy to pick up, but hard to master. Alas, I am ashamedly fairly new to the DBZ fanbase, so a lot of the characters and references do go over my head a little, but I really appreciate the detail that has gone into this game, including having animated cutscenes with the English voice actors!

8. Okami HD

Once again, I must apologise but I have never played this game before when it’s original release rolled around back on the PS2, however, I am about half way through this gem of a game and love it so far. The wonderful art style and simple control scheme keep Okami feeling timeless. Amaterasu is still as loveable and cute as ever, and the uniqueness of the paintbrush mechanic keeps this feeling fresh and fun years later.

7. Jurassic World Evolution

So this one surprised me a little, I have to say. I am a fan of the old park sims, such as Rollercoaster Tycoon and loved the original Jurassic Park film. But on release, I did not expect this game to be as fun as it was, given that it was criticised for its lack of a tutorial mode – you are simply plonked onto the first island and given a few menu prompts to get you started. The execution is not the best, but Evolution makes for a solid starting point and I hope it gets a sequel so that we might get the improvements to push this to the heights it deserves.

6. Shadow of the Colossus

Please don’t hate me for saying this, but as much as i enjoyed this game, i feel that it was tainted by it’s still very clunky and awkward controls. Again, i was a deprived child and did not get to experience the original release, but was expecting a more updated and smoother control scheme to make this a little more accessible. I still thought that this was a beautiful game, and the story, although fairly short, felt deep and powerful. I even bonded with the horse by the end of the game, which is a testament to SotC and its show not tell mentality. However i did feel that the overall experience was a bit too frustrating given how hard and unnatural it felt to control the boy at any given time, much less in the middle of battle.

5. Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Having played Spyro 3 as a kid and falling in love with the little purple dragon (especially the skateboarding) I have to say I was waiting for this to happen. Because let’s face it, after the success of the Crash N-Sane trilogy, how could it not? But yes, this is every bit as good of a remaster as the Crash games and has done justice to the little dude. The update in graphics is incredibly well done and the levels are lovingly recreated, leaving all the cartoon-ish charm and fun gameplay intact. The only downside – those flying levels can get stuffed!

4. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

I loved AC Origins so i knew i was in for a treat with Odyssey. The Greek setting in particular peaked my interest and the new combat mechanics are a great addition to the series. I picked Kassandra for my playthough, so i cannot attest to the male counterpart, however i found her to be a very relateable character. I personally loved the new dialogue options, allowing you to befriend, kill, or even romance whomever you pleased – my only gripe is that that in game choices did not seem to affect the story for me at all, despite what was advertised. I am aware that there are multiple endings, however having looked online these do not seem to differ too much and are only influenced by a few key choices within the campaign missions. Nevertheless i poured over 100 hours into this game and do not regret any of it!

3. Shadow of the Tomb Raider

I am a huge fan of this franchise and have been since 1996 when the original game was released, so I had high expectations for this game going forward. Sadly, I do feel a little disappointed – purely due to Shadows being an almost exact copy of Rise of the Tomb Raider, only with a change in setting and one or two extra upgrades on the skill tree. Also given that this is the third entry in the trilogy, I wanted to see a little more character progression from Lara, as we have been promised for the last 2 games now that we would start to see Lara transforming into the classic, badass persona instead of the scared naive rookie she is in the Tomb Raider 2013 reboot. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed this entry, as the last 2 games have been stellar in their own right, just not quite what was promised.

2. Spider-man

What can I say about this wonderful game but this blew me away. I had reservations after seeing the footage at E3, given the worry around quick time events and the fears that the combat mechanics would be too similar to the arkham games, i thought this quelled those fears within minutes of the first mission. I loved every second of this game, with the highlight being the webslinging and exploration of New York City. It is a beautiful game and one that is not afraid to take the time to develop multiple villains and create several crossing story arcs that stretch Spiderman to his limit and force him to question his path. Simply the best Spiderman game ever, if not one of the best comic book games in a very long time.

  1. God of War

I would be an absolute lunatic if I didn’t put this masterpiece of a game in my number one spot. Yes, I know, Red Dead Redemption 2 could also have been here, and alas it may well have been if I had the chance to play it yet. But suffice to say I haven’t even started playing Detroit: Become human yet, I only took it out of its wrapper today – and that was released 6 months ago. GOW has won multiple game of the year awards and I have to say it well deserves it, all the accolades all the praise, is 5 years of blood sweat and tears from Cory Balrog and all the crew at Sonny’s Santa Monica studio. I have played the previous 3 GOW games and enjoyed them thoroughly for what they were, but they do not come close to what this soft reboot has to offer. The switch from greek to Norse mythology is a risky one but one that fits so well with the change in direction, as Kratos is now father to Atreus. The father-son relationship is deep, emotional and weighty and the characters are well rounded and relatable, despite the fantastical setting. Every moment of this game was a pleasure to play from start to finish, and I am so glad it is getting the recognition it deserves.

So, i’ll end it there, but heres to a wonderful 2019 for all and lets hope we get a plethora of gaming delights ton match this year!