GregHorrorShow: Game Awards 2012

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So another fantastic year of gaming draws to a close and it’s time to look back to see what’s impressed in 2012:

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BEST GAME INNOVATION

GOTYInnovation

WINNER: Spec Ops ‘Degradation Of Characters’

It’s crazy to think that this has never been done before. In Spec Ops: The Line as well as physical changes, you and your squad also take a psychological beating. Later in the game as your character starts screaming his orders instead of calmly giving them it makes a huge difference. Even reloading calls are shouted through gritted teeth. It just makes the game feel incredibly visceral. Big shout outs to both Dishonored and Hitman: Absolution for bringing some new, inventive mechanics to the stealth genre. I expect both Blink and Instinct will turn up in other games at some stage.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Dishonored – Blink
  • Max Payne 3 – Bullet Time in Online Matches
  • Hitman: Absolution – Instinct

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BEST DLC (CONTENT)

GOTYDLCCon

WINNER: Battlefield 3 – Close Quarters

While Borderlands 2 gave us a substantial chunk of gameplay with Captain Scarlett’s Booty and Uncharted 3 delivered some clever, new maps, for sheer awesomeness this award has to go to Battlefield 3 for Close Quarters. This map pack with two new game modes was a brilliant addition to the Battlefield package. The maps in here are some of my favourite in the entire game’s roster – Operation 925 and Ziba Tower are so well designed it hurts. Sure these maps slightly favour a shotgun but when has that ever been a problem 🙂

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted 3 – Map Pack
  • Mass Effect 3 – From Ashes
  • Borderlands 2 – Captain Scarlett’s Booty

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BEST DOWNLOADABLE GAME

Journey 1

WINNER: Journey

Journey is unlike anything I’ve ever played – it truly is a game that needs to be experienced rather than discussed but if you’d like to read more, check out my review from earlier in the year. A truly stunning game. Also have to congratulate the guys at Evolution on Motorstorm RC – when I first saw the reveal I wasn’t hugely impressed but the game turned out to be fantastic.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Motorstorm RC
  • Sound Shapes
  • When Vikings Attack!

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2013

GOTYMostAnt

WINNER: Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar continue to deliver top quality games – since the last GTA we’ve had L.A Noire, Max Payne 3 and the superlative Red Dead Redemption. Grand Theft Auto V looks set to continue that (check out the trailer in the next section) and I can’t wait to see what advances have been made since the last game back in 2008.

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BEST GAME TRAILER

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WINNER: Borderlands 2

I love this trailer. It completely sums up the game and when Claptrap… well I won’t spoil it but check it out.

I’ve also included the runners up below so you can check them out as well.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Beyond: Two Souls
  • Bioshock Infinite

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BEST PS VITA GAME

GOTYVita

WINNER: Motorstorm RC

There have been some fantastic games for the Vita in it’s first year and I certainly don’t think the console is lacking in titles. Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation came close to making this list but was edged out by the excellent Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Sony Bend Studios delivered a great Uncharted game and Gravity Rush was a blast, despite some frustrating combat issues. However the award in 2012 goes to Motorstorm RC, a completely addictive racer that took up far too much of my time. Beating friend’s scores on the tracks gave everything a competitive edge and I enjoyed it so much I bought all the DLC to get more tracks. In my opinion a perfect title for the Vita.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • Need For Speed: Most Wanted
  • Gravity Rush

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BEST GRAPHICS

GOTYGraphics

WINNER: Max Payne 3

Usually best graphics is one of those categories where you can immediately arrive at a shortlist and the tough part is narrowing that down to a winner. But this year we’ve had a number of games that shone in various different styles. It’s been extremely difficult and titles like The Darkness II, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Hitman Absolution and Gravity Rush have all failed to make the cut. For me, although it was a linear experience, Max Payne 3 really delivered a mix of great technical work and graphical style to create a fairly unique and stunning looking game.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Journey
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Borderlands II

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BEST STORYLINE

GOTYStory

WINNER: Spec Ops: The Line

I had been keeping an eye on Spec Ops: The Line ever since it’s first reveal back at the Video Game Awards in 2009, so I was most pleased to see it finally get released in the summer. Promising tough moral choices, an interesting story and some good use of desert sand to trap enemies it looked like Spec Ops might dominate the barren Summer release schedule. It didn’t quite work out that way but Spec Ops: The Line tells one of the more engrossing stories in games of the last few years. The way things unfold is well choreographed and having seen some of the conversations with the writers of the game it seems almost everything in the game was planned that way from the beginning. It’s a slow start but well worth sticking with – one of the best storylines for a while.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Max Payne 3
  • The Darkness II
  • Dishonored

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (SCORE)

GOTYScore

WINNER: Max Payne 3 – Health

There have been some fantastic scores this year, from the usual military bombast of Call Of Duty: Black Ops II through to the quirky and lovable Sound Shapes on Vita. But most would be hard pressed to match Health‘s score for Max Payne 3, which fitted the game so well it was pretty much another aspect of Max’s character. Journey probably ran it closest, the sweeping joy and sorrow of Austin Wintory’s music really bringing a depth of emotion to the game. Big shout out as well to Hotline Miami, I haven’t even played that game but the soundtrack is fantastic in it’s own right.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Journey – Austin Wintory
  • Gravity Rush (Vita) – Kohei Tanaka
  • Sound Shapes (Vita) – Various

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (LICENSED)

GOTYLicensed

WINNER: The Darkness II

It’s also been a great year for licensed music uses in games – in fact it’s the first year I’ve truly struggled to get a shortlist, never mind a winner. FIFA continues to impress by delving into indie territory and Sleeping Dogs ‘Grand Theft Auto-esque’ radio station approach threw up some great tunes to cause carnage to. Eventually it was a two horse race for this award and despite a few excellent choices (Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – “Nowhere to Run” and Deep Purple – “Hush” in particular) by Spec Ops: The Line, The Darkness II steals it with tracks like Ram Jam – “Black Betty”, Metallica “Some Kind Of Monster”, Stereo MCs – “Connected”, The Flamingos – “I Only Have Eyes for You”, Dean Martin – “In the Chapel in the Moonlight”, The Offspring – “Self-Esteem” and of course, Tone Loc – “Wild Thing”. Fantastic stuff.

RUNNERS UP:

  • FIFA 13
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Spec Ops: The Line

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BEST VOICE ACTING

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WINNER: Sleeping Dogs

Square Enix assembled an all star cast including Hong Kong actor Will Yun Lee, Tom Wilkinson, Lucy Liu and Emma Stone to bring the characters of Sleeping Dogs to life. They do a great job and really help to pull you into the world the game creates. Nolan North again pulls a Nate Drake performance out of the bag, this time on the small(er) screen of the Vita. He also took on the main role of Martin Walker in Spec Ops: The Line – you can see why he’s one of the most in demand, and best, voice actors in gaming.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • Max Payne 3
  • Spec Ops: The Line

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

Journey Main

WINNER: Journey

Journey is a gaming experience like no other. As you make your way across desolate, sandy dunes the game will run you through a gamut of emotions. It’s such a wonderful game, play it online and in one sitting (it’s 2-3 hours long) – you won’t regret it. While in some respects Mass Effect 3 was disappointing, overall I thought it was a solid, enjoyable game. There were some interesting missions and choices you could make that meant, while the ending might not have been different, how you got to the conclusion of the story varied depending on your actions. Sleeping Dogs was so much fun I think I played almost the entire thing with a smile on my face but the dark horse in this race, sneaking up on the others with a fibre wire, is Hitman: Absolution. After a mis-step with Kane and Lynch 2, IO Interactive really delivered with Hitman. Accessible and challenging – definitely one of the best single player games out there this year.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Sleeping Dogs

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

GOTYMulti

WINNER: Borderlands 2

It hasn’t really been a great year for online multiplayer in my opinion – too few new games grabbed our attention and it was far too easy to jump back into titles like Battlefield 3 or Uncharted 3. However Borderlands 2 would be a worthy winner any year. Getting online with 3 of your friends and blasting through madcap missions was insane fun and the dash for spilled loot only added to the comedy. Mass Effect 3 successfully introduced multiplayer, it was only a horde mode of sorts but most enjoyable and the added depth of different character races gives it some longevity. Call Of Duty: Black Ops II was the most accessible and flexible yet, with some really great maps to boot. Max Payne 3 adds something different with modes like ‘Payne Killer’ and ‘Gang Wars’ but stands up as a third person action shooter in standard modes like Team Deathmatch as well. I was quite impressed with Max Payne’s online, especially the way the developer factored in bullet time but it didn’t seem like that many people were playing it beyond the first couple of weeks of release.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Max Payne 3
  • Call Of Duty: Black Ops II

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GAME OF THE YEAR

GOTYGame

WINNER: Borderlands 2

If you’ve been keeping up with the blog or following me on Twitter it’s probably not too hard to guess this year’s winner. For Borderlands 2, Gearbox Software ramped up the game and refined it to such an extent that it is genuinely hard to find fault with it. It’s fun on your own but truly comes to life in online co-op. Memorable characters compliment the game’s wicked sense of humour and an outrageous amount of classes, guns, shields, mods and relics just add to the chaos. Borderlands 2 is a huge game that you will love playing through.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Journey

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So there you have it, another great year for gaming and the above is only the tip of iceberg. There were some great titles that didn’t make the shortlists but are still worth checking out. Things like Syndicate, Binary Domain, X-Com: Enemy Unknown and Need For Speed: Most Wanted for a start. Or how about Unit 13, Everybody’s Golf and LittleBigPlanet for the Vita.

I never got around to playing a few of the big games from this year, most notably The Walking Dead and Resident Evil 6 but I’ll hopefully get a chance to experience those soon.

There’s been plenty to play this year and 2013 looks interesting, especially with new hardware on the horizon.

What is your game of the year? Let me know what you agree/disagree with in the above and what titles you would’ve had in there.

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GregHorrorShow: TV Awards 2012

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A lot of my favourite shows returned in 2012 and a few new upstarts arrived on the block.

So let’s get going – here are the GregHorrorShow TV Awards for 2012 🙂

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BEST NEW SHOW

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Winner: Homeland

Homeland exploded onto our screens early in the year, following lots of press and column inches from the US. For once the hype was justified and its tale of a returning P.O.W from the Middle East had us all gripped through the entire series. Big nod to The Newsroom, which is now one of my favourite shows of recent years and also to great new comedy New Girl, which has been fantastic. Unfortunately my curse of supporting shows that don’t make it to a second season continued as the excellent Alcatraz was canned at the end of it’s run.

Runners Up:

  • The Newsroom
  • Alcatraz
  • New Girl

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BEST COMEDY SHOW

NewGirlComedy

Winner: New Girl

Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl was another show that lived up to the excitement surrounding it, no mean feat when it comes to comedy. Sometimes things get lost in translation between US and UK comedy so it was refreshing that this one was so good. And it’s not just Deschanel, all of the main characters are really well written. Raising Hope goes from strength to strength and The Middle continues to impress. The Big Bang Theory has become the new Friends, every time I switch to E4 it’s on… which isn’t a bad thing.

Runners Up:

  • Raising Hope
  • The Middle
  • The Big Bang Theory

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BEST SOUNDTRACK

HavenMusic

Winner: Haven – Shawn Pierce

Traditionally this award has gone to a licensed soundtrack of existing tracks but Shawn Pierce’s wonderful, creepy score for Haven compliments the show so well it deserves some recognition. As Haven builds towards the close of the second season (here in the UK at least) the score stands out more and more. You check out some clips here.

Runners Up:

  • The Middle
  • New Girl
  • The Newsroom

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ACTOR OF THE YEAR (TV)

HomelandLewis

Winner: Damian Lewis – ‘Nicholas Brody’ (Homeland)

It’s hard to look beyond Lewis this year because his performance as Brody is just so believable. A truly fantastic piece of acting. However he was run close by Jeff Daniels as grumpy, troubled Will McAvoy in The Newsroom. Another commanding performance and I sometimes have to remind myself that this is the same guy from Dumb and Dumber! As Artie started to crumble in Warehouse 13, Saul Rubinek really delivered and Lafayette in True Blood, played by Nelsan Ellis, is still one of my favourite characters on TV.

Runners Up:

  • Jeff Daniels – Will McAvoy (The Newsroom)
  • Saul Rubinek – ‘Artie Nielsen’ (Warehouse 13)
  • Nelsan Ellis – ‘Lafayette’ (True Blood)

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ACTRESS OF THE YEAR (TV)

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Winner: Claire Danes – Carrie Mathison (Homeland)

Again it’s Homeland that takes the award as Claire Danes really gave us a performance to remember. As Carrie disappeared down the rabbit hole Danes’ acting was absolutely stunning – I think some of the besting acting I’ve seen. Allison Scagliotti, as Claudia Donovan, had a much larger role to play in Warehouse 13 this year and Stana Katic delivered once again as Kate Beckett struggled to readjust to life on the force in Castle. Audrey has been dealing with revelation after revelation in Haven and Emily Rose gives a brilliant, emotionally driven performance.

Runners Up:

  • Allison Scagliotti – ‘Claudia Donovan’ (Warehouse 13)
  • Stana Katic – ‘Kate Beckett’ (Castle)
  • Emily Rose – ‘Audrey Parker’ (Haven)

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TV SHOW OF THE YEAR

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Winner: The Newsroom

As much as Homeland dominated in terms of performances and storytelling, the one show I starting looking forward to more than any other was The Newsroom. Setting it just a year prior to current events meant that things felt fresh but the audience also knew how things would eventually pan out. As mentioned above Jeff Daniels is great but Alison Pill as Maggie and Sam Waterston as Charlie were brilliant. Also a big shout out to Olivia Munn who I only knew as a presenter of G4’s ‘Attack Of The Show’ for proving she’s a strong actress as well. It’s not afraid to pull any punches, which is why I think The Newsroom has proved so popular.

Runners Up:

  • Warehouse 13
  • Haven
  • Homeland

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So there we go, another year of TV over. What have you guys been watching?

Just one more set of awards to go now – the GregHorrorShow Game Awards for 2012 should be live on Monday so keep an eye out!

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GregHorrorShow: The Music Of 2012

NikiDove

2012 has been a pretty stellar year for music and a wealth of new bands have broken through. With streaming on Spotify (among others) blossoming, there has never been an easier way to uncover great, new music.

Here’s my pick of the best albums from 2012:

  • M.Ward – ‘A Wasteland Companion’
  • Lana Del Rey – ‘Born To Die’
  • Jake Bugg – ‘Jake Bugg’
  • Frank Ocean – ‘Channel Orange’
  • Ellie Goulding – ‘Halcyon’
  • Of Monsters And Men – ‘My Head Is An Animal’
  • Niki And The Dove – ‘Instinct’
  • Ladyhawke – ‘Anxiety’
  • Citizens! – ‘Here We Are’
  • Gaggle – ‘From The Mouth Of The Cave’

I don’t think I could pick one favourite if I’m honest. M.Ward ‘A Wasteland Companion’ is a truly superb piece of work. Of Monsters And Men delivered a great set of tracks with an album that grabs you immediately.

Channel Orange‘, for me, is the best R&B album in years – this was one of the albums that soundtracked my summer in 2012. For something totally fresh and out of leftfield give the Gaggle album a spin. I saw them live earlier in the year and it was a great gig. The album does it’s best to convey that ‘live’ vibe and it’s a cool bunch of tracks.

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Many have said it’s over-produced but I loved the Lana Del Rey album, it’s pure pop and very well written. Jake Bugg is a stunning talent and still so young. He is getting the recognition he deserves and his album is one you should definitely check out.

Albums that didn’t make the top ten but deserve an honorable mention would be Django Django‘s ‘Django Django’ (wonderful Hot Chip-esque pop), The Maccabees ‘Given To The Wild’, Cast Of Cheers ‘Family’, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs ‘Trouble’ (worth checking out even if you don’t like electronic stuff), 2:54 ‘2:54’, ‘Give You Ghost’ Policia, Theme Park ‘Theme Park’ (I dare you to listen to this and not wish it was summer!), Two Door Cinema Club ‘Beacon’, Soundgarden ‘Been Away Too Long’ (a real return to form in my opinion) and Kindness ‘Kindness’ (barring a poor cover choice of ‘Anyone Can Fall In Love’ this is great).

It would be remiss of me, given the gaming content on this blog, not to mention a couple of outstanding game scores from 2012. I would highly recommend checking out Health‘s ‘Max Payne 3’ score (here) and also the awesome ‘Drive’-inspired ‘Hotline Miami‘ soundtrack (here). High quality stuff.

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Once again I’ve collated my favourite tracks into a Spotify playlist which can be found here if you’re interested:

GregHorrorShow: The Music Of 2012

My tracks of 2012 (in no order) are as follows:

  • ‘Family’ – Cast Of Cheers
  • ‘National Anthem’ – Lana Del Rey
  • ‘Black, White and Blue’ – Ladyhawke
  • ‘True Romance’ – Citizens!
  • ‘To Be The Best’ – Tenacious D
  • ‘Lightning Bolt’ – Jake Bugg
  • ‘Me and My Shadow’ – M.Ward
  • ‘Little Talks’ – Of Monsters and Men
  • ‘Somebody’ – Niki And The Dove
  • ‘American Dream Pt II’ – Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
  • ‘Boy’ (Hostage Remix) – Nina Nesbitt
  • ‘Default’ – Django Django
  • ‘Dark Star’ – Policia
  • ‘Super Rich Kids’ – Frank Ocean
  • ‘Jamaica’ – Theme Park
  • ‘Lovers Of The Light’ – Mumford And Sons
  • ‘Sleep Alone’ – Two Door Cinema Club
  • ‘Figure 8’ – Ellie Goulding
  • ‘House Of Balloons’ – Weeknd
  • ‘212’ – Azealia Banks
  • ‘Pickup Truck’ – Willy Mason

It’s even more difficult to pick your favourite track than it is album but the one that has bought me the most joy this year is definitely ‘Me and My Shadow‘ by M.Ward. It’s just such a great song – nice structure and the introduction of the female vocal in the chorus is a great touch.

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I saw some really good gigs this year. I already mentioned Gaggle above and I was lucky enough to see Nina Nesbitt at Dingwall’s in Camden, I suspect she’ll have a big year ahead in 2013.

Some of my other favourites were Of Monsters And Men at Scala, which was brilliantly intimate and M.Ward who had a great, tight band with him and put on a great show at Koko.

I enjoyed Michael Kiwanuka at Sheperd’s Bush Empire but that night was stolen by support act Jake Bugg, who was the best artist I saw live in 2012. The sheer effortlessness of Bugg’s performance was insane as he rocketed his way the set. Amazing stuff.

So there we go – check out the playlist (link here again) and let me know what you think – and what you’ve been listening to/loving in 2012 – in the comments below.

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GregHorrorShow: The Films Of 2012

Losers

I think 2012 has been one of my more prolific film watching years in recent times – granted 99% of these were on DVD but I still got to see some great stuff. Here’s what I’d recommend seeing:

  • Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
  • District 9
  • Star Trek
  • Thor
  • The Road
  • The Losers
  • Moon
  • Seven Psychopaths
  • The Avengers
  • 13 Assassins
  • The Town
  • Total Recall (1987)
  • The Artist
  • Drive
  • Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Let me start with my favourite film of 2012, which will probably come as no surprise to anyone who read the review, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble (or just The Avengers as I like to call it 😆 ). I’m not a comic book guy although I had seen the films based around these characters (Thor also made the list – really enjoyed that) but I am a big Joss Whedon fan and I was glad to see him deliver in such style. I can’t wait to check this out again soon.

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Scott Pilgrim Vs The World was a film I wished I’d seen in the cinema but just never got around to it. Very quirky and definitely one for the geeks 😆

I thought District 9 raised some really good points about segregation and class issues, while also being a thoroughly entertaining sci-fi flick. I’ve never been a Star Trek fan but I liked the ‘reboot’ and the highlight for me was Karl Urban as ‘Bones’ – great casting and a spot on performance.

I was prepared for The Road as I had read the book and it was as depressing and bleak as I expected. Wonderful acting from Viggo Mortensen – he’s become one of those actors I trust, I’ll always give the film a chance if he’s involved, a talented actor.

Moon

A big surprise for me was The Losers which was one my favourite films of the last few years – it’s how I imagine a Battlefield: Bad Company film would be. Funny with larger than life characters and some huge explosions. Very cool.

Another actor I’ve grown to trust is Sam Rockwell, who I rate as one of the best in his generation. Moon cements this and Rockwell is outstanding. This is a great film that is both sad and moving. Really recommended. Rockwell was also in Seven Psychopaths, alongside Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken and Colin Farrell. I thought that was a great film as well. Very funny in places with some memorable performances.

13 Assassins was a crazy movie that took bloodshed to a new level. With some great swordplay and interesting characters this was one foreign language film that really delivered. Ben Affleck seems to be getting better and better behind the camera. The Town was a well crafted and nicely shot heist flick that was full of great acting. I liked the sense of tension and sinister undercurrent that ran throughout.

As a blast from the past I watched Total Recall (1987), which I’d previously only seen on VHS (yep that long). I barely remembered any of it to be honest so it was fun to check it out and discuss the various theories on the film with LeftyFlip.

Drive

I finally got round to seeing The Artist, which I thought was good – maybe not quite as great as everyone said but definitely worth watching. Another big film of last year that I caught up with was Drive, which I thought was fantastic. I think the ‘more-style-than-substance’ arguments I’d seen are valid but it’s still a cool, if violent, crime flick.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol lived up to it’s blockbuster billing and I really enjoyed the chemistry between the characters – I hope they bring them back together for another one.

So there you go, those are the films I watched this year that I think you should check out. Any I missed? I do have a backlog (including True Grit, which I *really* must watch soon) but any suggestions are most welcome.

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Call Of Duty: Black Ops II – Review (PS3)

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I’ve really enjoyed the last few campaigns in the Call Of Duty series so when I heard that Black Ops II had the best one yet I was pretty excited to give it a shot.

Unfortunately my initial time with the game did not go well. During the opening hour I got trapped in a game breaking glitch and after getting through that my PS3 froze up. I also had some pretty weird instances of character models getting stuck where they shouldn’t be and the game just felt really unpolished.

When I powered down my PS3 for the night I thought ‘if the next hour is like that I might not bother finishing this’, which is a pretty rare thought for me. Thankfully it seems that opening hour was just downright bad luck and the game ran fine from then on.

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And the campaign *is* the best in a Call Of Duty game to date. I know a lot of people just buy the game for the multiplayer but really you should check this story mode out. It flits between the 80’s and 2025 but is far less confusing than previous games. I always had a sense of which character I was controlling, something that hasn’t always been the case in former iterations of the titles.

The story is formed (and endings chosen) as you go through the game and the coolest thing Black Ops II pulls off is that half the time you’re not even aware you’re making a choice or triggering something that will change the story. Very refreshing.

The mulitplayer is as it has always been but the new loadout system (where each item – guns or perks – is worth a point and you can have up to 10) gives new players a clearer picture of what they are taking into rounds and allows more flexibility to customise a loadout to your particular tastes/skills.

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Of course this doesn’t level the playing field, people that have been playing the game series for years will still have the upper hand but it does give you a chance to play to your strengths. I’ve actually found the game to be a lot less frustrating than previous titles and am enjoying it online. It’s not going to drag me away from Battlefield 3 permanently but it’s certainly a nice change of pace.

Zombie mode returns and for fans of that mode you’ll find a campaign as well as the usual survival horde mode type affair. I’m not really into that mode to be honest but it’s a nice addition and shows Treyarch are trying to cater for as much of their audience as possible.

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Overall I really recommend Call Of Duty: Black Ops II, despite the issues I had early on with the game. The online is fast and frantic but definitely feels a little more welcoming than previous COD games. I think without the branching campaign it might have felt a little stale at this stage but Treyarch are keeping it relevant by tweaking the formula… Infinity Ward take note.

Rating: 9/10

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GregHorrorShow: The Books Of 2012

LemonCake

So the awards season kicks into gear for 2012 and first up it’s books.

I’ve read some really great books this year. I admit my reading time did take a bit of a battering when my Vita arrived in February… for about a month I didn’t read on the commute to and from work, as I was too engrossed in my new shiny handheld toy 🙂

So as usual in no particular order, here are the books I’ve read in 2012 that I’d recommend checking out:

  • ‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’ – Edmund De Waal
  • ‘Beyond The Shadows’ – Brent Weeks
  • ‘I Am Ozzy’ – Ozzy Osbourne
  • ‘The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest’ – Stieg Larsson
  • ‘Battle Royale’ – Koushun Takami
  • ‘Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters’ – Ben H Winters
  • ‘Deus Ex: The Icarus Effect’ – James Swallow
  • ‘The Odyssey’ – Homer
  • ‘Neuromancer’ – William Gibson
  • ‘Ready Player One’ – Ernest Cline
  • ‘Listen To This’ – Alex Ross
  • ‘The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake’ – Aimee Bender

BeyondShadows

I kicked off 2012 with ‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’, Edmund De Waal‘s interesting look at the history of a collection of Netsuke that has been in his family for hundreds of years. While I did feel the book dragged a little in the middle I thought overall it was an entertaining read.

I rounded out the Night Angel trilogy with Brent Weeks‘ ‘Beyond The Shadows‘ which was thoroughly excellent and while on the subject of closing trilogies I also wrapped up the Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larsson with ‘The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest‘. Dark and gritty doesn’t really cover it but it truly is one of the best set of books I’ve ever read. Seriously, if you haven’t read them check them out!

I Am Ozzy‘ is Ozzy Osbourne’s hazy attempt to piece together what has happened in his life 😆 and was interesting from various viewpoints. Of course the band history and music side were entertaining but it also gives you a good insight into how much the music scene changed people’s lives in the UK in the 60’s.

BattleRoyale

Koushun Takami‘s ‘Battle Royale‘ took up a big chunk of my time, it’s a long book but well worth the effort. I haven’t seen the film so I went in cold and absolutely loved it. An intricate and clever story with plenty of mistrust and betrayal, it’s the tale of a class of school mates essentially dumped on a secluded island and told to fight to the death.

After enjoying ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies‘ a while back, I was intrigued to check out ‘Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters‘ by Ben H Winter and (of course) Jane Austen. Unfortunately it didn’t quite hit the heights of the zombie romp but it was enjoyable and gave me a (somewhat distorted) idea of the plot of the ‘real’ Sense And Sensibility. I actually saw Deus Ex: The Icarus Effect in a second hand book shop for the princely sum of £2.00. I couldn’t resist at that price and I’m glad I picked it up. Expanding the universe of the game from last year it really showcases the strong point of the fiction, with lots of augmentations and cyborg parts.

I always like to try and read one ‘classic’ a year and I was most impressed with ‘The Odyssey‘, Homer‘s tale of Odysseus’ journey to try and get back to his family. Of course reading something this old does take a bit of patience but I would say it is definitely worth reading. You can see bits of lots of other stories that have ‘borrowed’ from this classic work over the years. Another older novel I read was ‘Neuromancer‘ by William Gibson, which is set in a cyberpunk universe and tells the story of a ‘crippled’ hacker who ends up fighting for his life to turn the tables on the corporation that has set him up.

ReadyPlayerOne

As a big gamer ‘Ready Player One‘ by Ernest Cline was right up my alley. The quote on the front of the book sums it up best ‘Willy Wonka meets The Matrix’. A challenge is set for gamers everywhere – the person that solves the puzzles will inherit a global powerhouse of a computer company – with all the cash benefits that would bring. Well written and really engaging, if you’re into games (especially retro games) then check it out. Alex Ross walks you through some of the different figures in music through the ages in ‘Listen To This‘. From Mozart to Radiohead, there is good reason to delve into this and find out some more about music and it’s makers.

But my favourite book this year has to be ‘The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake‘ by Aimee Bender. This beautifully written story is about a girl who suddenly discovers that her food no longer tastes of food – she can instead taste the feelings of the person who made it. Tragic and heart-breaking in places, warm and funny in others, this was a book I read in one day. I literally couldn’t put it down. So good and very much recommended.

So there you go – what have you guys been reading? Anything you’d recommend checking out?