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The brooding and mysterious younger brother of Grand Theft Auto V is kind of disappointing.

I have only played the game a total of 5 hours since I got the game earlier today so I am reserving my overall judgement after I play the game  this weekend.

But as far as first impressions go, this game was not what I hoped and worried it will be. I’ll be honest, when this was first unveiled over a year ago, I was immediately aboard the hype train for Watch Dogs. The graphics were outstanding and with the ability to hack just about any electronic device, my thought that the gameplay would be one-of-a-kind.

But I was worried, with all the abilities in your grasp (blackout, hacking, snooping, driving, shooting), I thought that the controls would be complicated. It’s not. It turns out, all you need to do is to press the square button. It should make me happy that the controls is not as complicated as I perceived it to be, but then again, the simplicity took away some points to my gaming experience. Suddenly, Watch Dogs is not the revolutionary game I was led to believe that it will be.

Like I said earlier, this is Grand Theft Auto’s more brooding little brother. Unfortunately for Watch Dogs, the GTA franchise setup a pretty massive benchmark for open world gaming that anything similar to it, just won’t be enough. 

The game is still great, don’t get me wrong. It’s easy to get lost in Ubisoft’s version of modern Chicago. In the five hours that I played this game, most of these hours were wasted reading the profile of it’s citizens. I was wondering if I should steal money from a cancer survivor or that person who donates money to extremist groups. This world is bustling. If there’s one thing WD did better than GTA, it’s this. NPCs are alive and teeming with personality. One can get lost just simply by hacking into people’s profile, listening in on their phone calls or reading their SMS exchanges. Some of these often leads you to crafting materials and side missions. 

Also, since the game I have is on PS4, I can definitely guarantee that this game is pretty. The blurring when scenes change is reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed. It’s not bad, although there are times that it’s distracting. Sometimes I think, is this really part of the design or a glitch? But when you play the game as it is, it’s smooth as silk and again, it’s really gorgeous.

Hopefully, you’ll hear back from me soon with a full review of the game.

Tell me what you think of Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs. Is it worth the hype and wait?

Game of the year.

Best game of 2013.

The scariest and most moving story in video gaming history.

These are some of the descriptions being thrown out by everyone who has played the game. And true to those descriptions, The Last of Us delivered the same quality that has often been expected of games coming from Naughty Dog.

It is not fair to compare this game to the company’s other best seller Uncharted because they are two different genres. While Uncharted is brimming with action and wit, this new game is full of suspense and drama. With The Last of Us, you don’t go out guns ablazing killing off infected, you have to play it smart.

But I’m already talking forward, let’s back up a little and start from the beginning: the story. This is set twenty years after a fungal infestation spread all over the world. The Infected (sort of like zombies only creepier looking) litter the entire nation. Joel, a smuggler, who experienced a tragedy when the infection began was forced to transport a 14-year old girl out of Boston to a militia camp on the other side of the country. Thus begins the tale of morally gray men and women of The Last Of Us.

If there are acting awards given to video game characters, Joel and Ellie deserve the trophy. You can really see the desperation in their eyes whenever they are forced to kill someone. And the voice work of both Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson are just superb. They’re really effective. The emotions shown on screen by both computer generated characters are way better than the ones from LA Noire which was supposed to be a game about analyzing people’s emotion.

Thankfully, the gameplay is easy to figure out. Watching demos on youtube got me worried at first that this is going to be a difficult game, but when I finally got my hands on it, it felt like home. While you are allowed to go guns blazing fighting either the Infected or your fellow survivors, stealth is more favorable. You see, this is 20 years after apocalypse. Bullets and whatever stash you can have are rare finds. So you really have to play this game smart. This is bad for me as I’m someone who’d rather fight and kill everyone on sight rather than hide. So I really had a hard time playing this game. Fortunately, you’ll get invested with your characters that I never thought, not even once on giving up on the game.

The environment, what can I say… it’s definitely prettier than the one I played in Skyrim. Set pieces are large enough that you’d really want to wander around and scavenge for supplies or trinkets or comic books. The post apocalypse America is so beautiful you’d forget this is a survival horror game. Heck, I’m surprised that the PS3 can still release pretty games at the end of this console generation’s life cycle. And the AI is really good too. Sometimes, I’d just hide and let my  companions do the fighting for me.

The next generation of video game consoles will be coming out by the end of the year. And if you’re an owner of a PS3, then you can’t pass on this game.

The first three sentences on this review are perfect descriptions of what this game is. It’s more actually.

Bravo Naughty Dog. I can’t wait to play your next game.

After I play The Last Of Us seven more times.

RATING: 10 out of 10 stars 

Movie trailers’ purpose is to make people want to watch a movie. It whets the appetite of casual film goers, fans and geeks. I lined up the first day of showing of Iron Man 3 expecting this grand showdown between Tony Stark and the Mandarin. Little did I know that I should not come in with expectations about this film.

I’m not saying that Iron Man 3 is a bad film. Far from it. It’s I think the best outing for Tony Stark (after Avengers of course). But it was totally far from what I expected. And it was good!!!

The film is loosely based on Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s Extremis storyline. A virus has been created that can enhance any man, and those who cannot regulate the virus turns into a Weapon of Mass Destruction. I was curious as to how they would add The Mandarin into the story, seeing as he is Iron Man’s greatest nemesis.

Honestly, the change of director was initially worrisome to me. Sometimes it can go either way. I have never heard of Shane Black before this movie so I didn’t want to bring my hopes up just to be disappointed in the end. Fortunately, the movie delivered. And it delivered in spades.

This is the first film where I thought that the super villains are really formidable. You will genuinely fear for the life of Tony Stark and those around him. Guy Pierce was really nasty in this one. I think he was a great choice for Aldrich Killian. And Ben Kingsley… wow!!! His Mandarin was something I never expected. It was awesome!!!

As usual, Robert Downey Jr. proved he’s the best fit for the character. I honestly can’t see anyone else who’d fill in his shoes if ever he decides to quit playing the part. And I don’t know, I think this is the sexiest he’s ever been playing the role of our heroic billionaire.

Just like the tradition, the movie is packed with equal portions of action, drama and laughs. I really loved Tony’s interaction with a kid midway through the film. And there were significant developments for Pepper’s character as well.

So the summer movie blockbuster’s officially started with Iron Man 3. And honestly, this is the best way to start the season.

By the way, the post credit scene was hilarious. Predictable, but hilarious!!!

Bring on Avengers 2!!!

RATING: 9.5 out of 10 stars

ninokuni

My video game purchases for 2013 is off to a great start.

Two weeks ago, I was absorbed into the new world of Dante in DMC: Devil May Cry. And then last weekend, I became inchanted by this little Japanese RPG called Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. This is Level 5 and Studio Ghibli’s first collaboration.

The story centers on a young boy named Oliver who is destined to be the savior of another world. Following the loss of his mother, the young boy eagerly joined this epic quest with Drippy, high lord of the faeries in the hopes of saving and bringing back his mother.

I am no stranger to JRPGs and since the introduction of the original Playstation, I have played quite a number of these games. While this isn’t really that different from what has gone before, Ni No Kuni stands atop of them all due to it’s unbelievably infinite charm. It helps that Studio Ghibli’s name (of Spirited Away fame) attached to the game. That alone, gives high marks in terms of the art for this title.

Gameplay is immersive, while you do play as Oliver throughout the game, during fight scenes, it is better when you use your Familiars. These are like your Pokemon pets that fight for you. There are about 400 of them to collect (all of them are really over-the-top cute), so you’ll never run out of things to do in this game. Aside from the main story, side quests include fixing people’s broken hearts. They can be done via fetch quests or other errands, all of these will make you not notice that you’ve been playing the game for over 20 hours. It is that immersive.

I really don’t have anything negative to say about the game. I guess, if I have one thing to nitpick, it’s that I would like to hear some more voice acting from the game. Some cutscenes are text heavy and takes away a little joy from my playthrough.

At a little over 30 hours of play in this game, I’m barely halfway to finishing this game. And that’s fine because I really having a good time with this title.

It’s a game that every PS3 owners really should not miss.

RATING: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

James Bond’s movie life turned 50 this year and they celebrate it by making one of the best films in the series. Yeah, they did screw up the continuity of the franchise but who the heck cares.

Daniel Craig’s third outing as the slick double O agent has been a bit shaky. Casino Royale is just brilliant and still stands as the best in it’s 50 year history. On the other hand, Quantum of Solace is still waiting on my hard drive to be finished. Fortunately, the third film came back better than ever.

Casino Royale reset the world of Bond the best way that I can think of. And it still continues here. We meet familiar names for the first time and say hello to new ones as well.

When you haveSam Mendes helming the film, where do you go wrong? He is one of the most skilled storyteller in Hollywood for some time now. I haven’t really seen any of his other works after the brilliant American Beauty and Road to Perdition, but this has been an awesome comeback film for him. I love his style. It’s slick, it does not falter and it just flows brilliantly. The action scenes may not reach the highs of prior Bond films, but it makes the Bond universe more grounded. More realistic. Better.

And the cinematography. Wow! From the streets of Turkey, to the high rise towers of Shanghai, that casino in Macau, to London and finally that lone mansion in Scotland, I’ve never seen the world as beautiful as these breathtaking shots have made them.

When you got everything else stepping up, it’s great that the actors were able to step up their game for this film too. But when you’ve got names like Ralph Fiennes, Judi Dench, Albert Finney, Javier Bardem and Daniel Craig on your cast, you know you have to do well. I especially love Bardem’s Agent Silver. The gay innuendos on his first scene with Bond was the highlight of the film for me. Perfect blend of great writing and acting.

I don’t really have anything bad to say about this film as I think it’s totally brilliant. It may turn off some continuity geeks, in the way that it screwed Pierce Brosnan’s Bond. But when you’re watching a great movie, you wouldn’t really care at all.

Heck, simpletons may not even think that the end of the film has any effect in the continuity at all..

RATING: 9.5 out of 10 stars

 

I really didn’t want to post a review today, but I can’t contain  myself. I wanted to tell people about the film I saw a few hours ago.

The end of the trilogy. The last film of the Nolan era of Batman. The Dark Knight Rises.

Expectations on this film has been so high mostly because the last one has been regarded as a modern classic.

Fortunately this last film satisfied… No… Exceeded… Not even… Simply put, this movie blew me away. The Dark Knight was put on a pedestal, and this threequel can be placed beside that.

Christopher Nolan created the best trilogy film has ever seen.

While I don’t think anyone can top Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning tune as the Joker, the entire cast proved they are worthy of their roles. Most notable is Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman. She’s no longer just a sex kitten that heats up the screen, she is a formidable character who will do just about anything to get what she wants.

I also loved the story. Not only does it follow the continuity, this film is actually the only film that resembles what happened in the comics. It was great to see the iconic backbreaking scene from Knightfall (correct me if I’m wrong on this one).

Even the twist in the end was something that fans of the comic book will truly appreciate.

I understand the critiques about this movie. They came mostly from non-readers. The twist may even be something that came from nowhere, specially if you did not see the first film. But for a comic geek like me, this was the perfect fan service a film creator would give to his loyalists.

Christopher Nolan achieved what some thought was impossible.

He made a comic book film relevant.

RATING: 10 out of 10 stars..

So, like a true fanboy, last Friday I saw myself lining up to see the re-interpretation of one of the best super heroes of Marvel Comics. The Amazing Spider-man.

The Kid was late and I didn’t want to miss the trailers so I didn’t wait for him anymore. I left his ticket with the concierge and went inside the cinema. I know, I’m such a sweet boyfriend.

Anyway, so the film starts with Peter Parker as a kid, his parents about to leave him because of something terrible that happened in Richard’s home office. Someone wants to get a copy of one of the scientist’s designs. And so begins the journey of Peter Parker.

I say Peter Parker, because this is mostly his story. I don’t think we’ll see Spider-man himself until I guess the second half of the film. This is a true origin story that’s firmly rooted to his comic book origins.

If there’s something I really like about Spidey’s latest film is that it’s true to the comics. Peter Parker was never buff, he was lanky and thin. Mary Jane was never Peter’s first love. It was Gwen Stacey. He didn’t really have organic webbings that come out of his wrists, he created his own web shooters. And a lot of his first adventures often brought mayhem to his high school Midtown High. That was so Stan-Lee-old-school-comics adaptation.

That’s what Marc Webb got right on this film.

Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-man is not a perfect movie. Well, I guess if I’m a teenaged girl who’s a fan of forbidden love and whatever emo shit that Twilight made infamous, then this would be a perfect movie.

It’s sad that this film is catering to a specific crowd and not everybody. I went to this film expecting a lot of action that is standard for any comic book adaptations, but that’s what was sorely lacking from this film. I think overall there were just two or three action scenes from this film, and all of them were pretty short. I do however loved that Midtown High fight scene between Spidey and The Lizard. That was taken straight from the pages of the classic Spider-man comics.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were perfect for this film. There’s chemistry there. It’s obvious that they are in love with each other. That resonates really loudly watching the movie. I hate that there are Emma Stone haters in the cinema. She’s hot! She’s like Lindsay Lohan if she didn’t spiral into drug abuse and drunk driving. Red hair may suit her better, but she is hot. The little touches of 500 Days of Summer is appreciated, but that’s the thing.

This is not a rom com. This is a COMIC BOOK FILM!

Again, I didn’t hate this film. It’s not bad. It’s actually very good. It just lacked some testosterone.

 

RATING: 7 out of 10 stars