The Losers – Review (Film)

I’d heard mixed things about The Losers and I certainly wasn’t expecting anything impressive when I fired it up, however it turned out I was to be pleasantly surprised.

The film tells the story of a rag tag army unit who, after being double crossed by their superiors, look to take revenge on them.

This is an action comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously and the chemistry between the group is evident to see. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Clay), Idris Elba (Roque), Columbus Short (Pooch), Chris Evans (Jenson) and Óscar Jaenada (Cougar) all do a great job with some genuinely funny material.

The Losers is the film equivalent of the Battlefield: Bad Company series, where the main group of characters always end up wise-cracking their way through various scrapes and situations.

Of course this won’t be to everyone’s tastes and it certainly doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been seen before. The Losers wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve – it’s all about a group of outcasts blowing stuff up and chasing the ‘bad guy.’

If you like action films I’d say give The Losers a shot. It’s a funny, explosion filled romp with plenty of memorable moments and some great dialogue to boot. One of the better films I’ve seen in the last few years.

Rating: 9/10

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GregHorrorShow’s Guide To Gaming – Part 3: Titles To Start With (Single Player)

Everybody has to start somewhere and gaming can be one of the tougher pastimes to get started with.

Of course you’ll want to hit up the latest and greatest games. No doubt your buddies will be quick to shower you with games you ‘have to play.’

Often people recommend you games that they love forgetting that you might not have quite the knowledge of the genre or know your way that well around a gamepad.

Below are some titles that I’d say are worth a shot for new players – if you’re completely new to gaming it might be worth sticking them on Easy as well until you find your feet.

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MAFIA II

Mafia II is a well produced, easy to get into, gangster story set in the 1940’s and beyond. It’s a third person action adventure game in the same vein as Grand Theft Auto. However the main reason I suggest this as a starter title is that it is extremely linear. You can just stick to the story without getting bogged down in side quests/open world stuff.

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JOE DANGER

Joe Danger is simple, unadulterated fun. Taking on the role of motorcycle stuntman Joe Danger, you’re tasked with revving your way through various stunts, tricks and races. You go from the left of the screen to the right rather than the world being three dimensional but this is a great game to get yourself familiar with the pad.

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CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3

The Modern Warfare franchise has been taken to task over the last few years for providing a rip roaring rollercoaster of a ride in it’s single player campaign. The issue most people have with that is that a lot of the game is ‘on-rails’ and linear. Perfect for folks looking to get to grips with their new console.

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MOTORSTORM: PACIFIC RIFT

For me Pacific Rift has been the pinnacle of the Motorstorm series. This is pick up and race at it’s very best. Choosing from a whole host of vehicles: Trucks, Bikes, Jeeps and more, you’ll be landing massive jumps and outpacing the opposition in no time.

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UNCHARTED 2: AMONG THIEVES

Nathan Drake is the poster child of the PS3 – all three of his games have been a blast from start to finish. The original game ‘Drake’s Fortune’ suffered from a few issues in terms of difficulty spikes and shooting mechanics. So I’d recommend starting with ‘Among Thieves’ instead. While there can be a lot going on with different buttons etc, the developers do a great job of guiding you through it.

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LITTLEBIGPLANET 2

Another of Sony’s marketing stars is Sackboy, whose adorable little face can be found plastered all over the place. At it’s core this is a sandbox of fun in which you can create levels or whatever you want. Luckily the game also comes with a story mode in which you can make your way through plenty of pre-created levels. Simple but addictive, this is great fun on your own or with a friend as the game supports local co-op.

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HEAVY RAIN

David Cage’s Tour De Force does have the odd hole here and there but overall this is a fantastic gaming experience. Taking control of four characters within the story, you will be doing your best to nail the Origami Killer, who has kidnapped another victim. Not played in the orthodox style of gaming, Heavy Rain will get you used to where the buttons are on the pad in no time.

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DIRT 3

One for the more serious racers out there, Dirt 3 has a touch more realism than the Motorstorm series but is a lot more forgiving than something like Gran Turismo. With a mix of rally racing and some more stunt based stuff, this is a great game to get started with if you’re interested in driving/racing games.

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So there we go, a few suggestions of titles that are worth checking out if you’re new to the world of Playstation or just looking to start playing beyond FIFA and Call Of Duty online.

Will be interested to see what you guys think and what games you would recommend to get people started?

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Fallout: New Vegas – Review (PS3)

Fallout 3 blew me away when I finally got round to playing it (it made No.7 in my Top 50 Single Player Games countdown) and when they announced another title in the series I was excited. Although it was being outsourced to another developer, it just so happened that the developer in question was Obsidian who made the underrated Alpha Protocol. Win-win, I thought.

Fallout: New Vegas sees you play as The Courier, a… ahem… courier who has his package stolen, is shot in the head and left for dead in a shallow grave. Saved by a passing robot you end up, not only conscious, but looking for revenge.

Make no mistake New Vegas is almost exactly the same as Fallout 3. You are saved (as opposed to being born in 3), create your character and then set off out into the big, wide, world.

However the same could be said for almost any open world RPG so you can’t be too hard on the game for that. In fact this is a game that refines what has come before it rather than making sweeping changes to the existing formula.

Graphically it’s the same engine so everything feels familiar. It’s not necessarily a big negative but it does mean that you will recognise animations etc from the previous game.

VATS returns, so if (like me) you’re an appalling shot in real time you can pause the action, choose a limb and let loose that way instead. Thankfully my favourite aspect from Fallout 3, the ‘Mysterious Stranger’ perk, is present and correct here as well – which helped me out on many occasions.

One feature that has been expanded on is the use of factions. In New Vegas there are various groups that you can align with – The New California Republic (NCR), Caesar’s Legion, Mr. House, The Boomers, The Great Khans and The Brotherhood of Steel to name a few.

You can play factions off against each other up to a point but as you get towards the end of the game you’ll need to decide where your loyalties lie. Fortunately for me I had sided with one group throughout and stuck by them all the way.

As is the case with the previous game the story is what you make of it by discovering locations and taking on side quests – though the urgent nature of the main quest meant that the story (for me at least) felt a lot more driven than that of Fallout 3.

In a way that was a good thing as it meant the game progressed at a more even rate but unfortunately it also meant that I didn’t quite get the same level of immersion out of the side quests – or maybe I just missed the best ones while pursuing the main quest?

Overall Fallout: New Vegas is a very good game. While it doesn’t do a great deal of new stuff it delivers a worthwhile experience that will tide fans of the series over until Fallout 4 arrives.

Rating: 8/10

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‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’ by Edmund De Waal – Review (Book)

As much as I love a good story it’s sometimes nice to lose yourself in someone else’s memoirs. Often that someone is a celebrity or somebody you admire. In the case of ‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’ the main focus of the book is a collection of small Japanese ceramic figurines called netsuke.

Beginning in the late 1800’s with the author’s distant relatives, the book charts the course of the netsuke collection (all 250 of them) as they pass through generation to generation.

While it may not sound particularly riveting in practice the journey of the figurines is an impressive one, taking in multiple eras and surviving two World Wars.

Added to that is the struggle of De Waal as he looks to unlock his family history – although fortunately for him his ancestors were not only wealthy but also well documented as figures in the social scenes of the time.

‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’ is a thoroughly interesting book but does drag a little in places – it becomes bogged down in intricate detail here and there, which slows things up.

I’m not even sure who I would recommend this to? I doubt there is a huge market for netsuke among people I know or the people who read this blog (please let me know if that’s incorrect!). Obviously an interest in ceramics/pottery (which I don’t personally have) may make it more intriguing but I think if you like a mixture of memoir and story then maybe this is the book for you.

Rating: 7/10

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FIFA 12 – Review (PS3)

It often gets to the stage with sports games that they become merely annual roster updates, with a huge list of supposed gameplay changes that in actuality make little or no difference at all. However for the first time in a long time FIFA 12 bucks that trend.

This year gamers are treated to a full physics engine that means the end of canned animations for players on the pitch. While that may not sound like a big deal it means that every time two players are involved in a scuffle for the ball the result will be different.

Rather than one player entering into a pre-determined ‘ball winning’ animation and the other a pre-determined ‘losing ball’ animation you get a natural clash and outcome, as you would at a real game. Of course there are still a few teething issues – the occasional pile up of players on the ground as they trip over each other being at the comedy end of the scale – but overall this new feature adds so much more to the game.

As has become expected in recent years the gameplay of FIFA is second to none. You will really feel like you are involved in a real game of football – especially against human opponents locally or online. The AI is a little too good for my liking 😆 but most of my time is spent online anyway.

Last year the main draw online was Ultimate Team, a sort of fantasy football where you build a roster of players and control transfers etc. This remains in FIFA 12 but personally I feel it’s been eclipsed by the awesome new Head To Head league mode. This sees you needing a required amount of points in 10 online games to progress up through the leagues. As you move up through the 10 leagues you need more points to stay in that division and face better players that match your skill level. It is extremely addictive, so be warned.

Have no doubt, FIFA 12 is the ultimate football package both offline and online. There is something here for everyone and if you have any interest in football, this is the game for you. The new physics based gameplay means this title is a genuine step forward for the genre.

Rating: 10/10

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