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argo
Author: johnboy82
Review Added 2015-01-04
Review Rating /100 0 votes
What we feared has come to pass and the world is in a post apocalyptic state where the survivors kill on sight and the infected roam in search of their next meal. This is the setting of Naughty Dog's critically acclaimed third person shooter survival horror title The Last of Us. The main factor for such acclaim for The Last of Us is due to its superb visuals and brilliant script and voice acting. As Naughty Dog is a subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment The Last of Us is only available on PlayStation. This is the same for their other hugely successful series Uncharted. The game was originally brought out on PlayStation 3 in June 2013 but then rereleased as The Last of Us Remastered in July 2014 for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

The moving intro of The Last of Us demonstrates the quality and brilliance of the acting and script of the entire game. You control Joel, played by Troy Baker, as he is trying to protect his family as the mysterious outbreak reaches his home town in Texas and sends them running for safety in whichever way they can.
After the emotional introduction the game jumps 20 years in the future where America is now in ruin. Joel has become a smuggler based in a military run quarantine zone in Boston. He soon finds himself reluctantly hired to smuggle Ellie, a fourteen year old girl played by Ashley Johnson, for the resistance movement called The Fireflies.
The clash of characters between the two soon becomes apparent with Joel a bitter cold hearted damaged man and Ellie a post pandemic born wide eyed teenager who still sees the beauty in the world as they set out on their travels. Throughout the game their travels lead them west across the United States over the best part of a year while their friendship blossoms like a protective father daughter relationship . This character development is portrayed flawlessly through the outstanding script and fantastic voice acting which is probably the main reason why The Last of Us has gotten such recognition.

In The Last of Us you travel on a linear path and will frequently come across a group of not so friendly humans or infected. The goal is usually to get past them either by stealth, guns blazing, or both. Each of the two types of encounters are different as in the behaviour and tactics of your opponent. For example when dealing with a hostile human encounter they will be armed with melee and firearm weapons and will hold their ground with their guns and try to flank you. While a battle with the infected can be completely different due to the fact that as soon as they detect you they will charge straight for you by instinct.

Your enemy will usually have a predestined path which they keep to until they are alerted. These paths can be learnt using your listen ability which allows you to hear their movements through walls and other obstacles. This can take some time though as you wait for the enemy to navigate their way but is necessary on the harder difficulties as ammunition will be in short supply. The goal, both against infected or human, is to silently take out as many as you can without being detected. You can creep around picking them off one by one thinning their numbers which is the smartest way as you don't waste your precious bullets. It is always good to clear the area as you can then search it for supplies and ammunition.

The first few encounters in The Last of Us are against humans. They typically carry guns so if they are alerted they will go for cover and shoot you when you come out of yours, which is whenever you want to fire at them. Meanwhile there will probably be a couple of them sneaking around to flank you. The enemy AI can be quite smart and make it very difficult if none were dealt with quietly.
After a few encounters you will come across a handful of infected. The combat with these is quite different. If they are disturbed then they will all charge at you at once which can be challenging. This particular room catches most people out as they figure out how to deal with the infected. If you are lucky you can eliminate them all stealthy but it will take some time to study the path they walk. One thing to know is that you can always run. There is nothing wrong with running in The Last of Us.

The human enemy are generally all the same with the only difference being how they are armed. They can either be unarmed and attack with their fists, have a melee weapon such as a plank of wood or a lead pipe, or they can have a firearm. This generally stays the same as the game progresses. Except that they will be better equipped and may also have some explosives and Molotov cocktails.

The infected enemy you will encounter on the other hand are a little more complex. There are four altered types, all at different stages of the infection, and a single encounter may include a combination of the four. Runners are in the first stage of the mutation and are the weakest of the infected. They hunt on sight with their glowing red eyes. Stalkers are similar to runners but at a more advanced stage of infection. They are very aggressive and will attack on sight. The fungal growths have started to appear on their face. Clickers are the third stage of the infection which has left them completely blind due to the fungal infection on their face. They now hunt by sound and can navigate about using a kind of echolocation which causes the clicking noise they make. They are quite deadly as they can kill with one bite and cannot be killed by bare hands. A shiv is needed to kill them stealthily or to protect yourself from being bitten. Bloaters are the final stage of the infection and are huge creatures covered in thick fungus which acts as armour. They are also completely blind and rely on echolocation and move at a slower pace than the others. They too kill with one blow but can also throw toxic fungus that damages health.

Scavenging is very important in The Last of Us as you do not have very much supplies. The main objects to find are ammunition and materials for crafting shivs, health kits, and explosives. You will have multiple weapons all of which take different ammunition and have a limited maximum shell count. You can also scavenge supplements, which allow you to permanently increase your skills, and parts that are used for upgrading your weapons and equipment. The harder the difficulty level the less there is to scavenge forcing you to have a more defensive approach to encounters with enemies.

Joel will amass multiple weapons, from pistols to a flame-thrower, during his travels. All of which can be upgraded at workbenches. As ammunition is scarce all weapons will need to be used. They can be switched between during the game which can take a bit of time so it is a good idea to be in cover when changing weapon. He also collects materials for crafting shivs, health kits, smoke bombs, nail bombs, and Molotov cocktails. All of which are very useful.

The Last of Us Remastered includes The Last of Us and downloaded content including the single player expansion Left Behind. This is a prequel telling the none linear story of Ellie (Ashley Johnson) and Riley (Yaani King). The character controlled is Ellie as the story jumps from a time during Ellie and Joel's travels to a time before events of the main story. The visuals of The Last of Us Remastered has also been updated for the PlayStation 4.

There is no surprise that The Last of Us was the second highest selling game for the PlayStation 3 in 2013 after Grand Theft Auto V. The visuals are amazing, even on the PlayStation 3. Some scenes are so detailed it leaves you thinking do we even need next generation consoles. Even though the graphics are so good I feel the best aspect of the game is the voice and motion acting. Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson give the characters and game a emotional depth I have never experienced in a game before. Most movies would not even come close. Other characters throughout the game have also displayed fantastic motion and voice acting such as Annie Wersching who plays Tess, Joel's smuggling partner, and Jeffrey Pierce who plays Tommy, Joel's brother and former Firefly.

Even though the script was well written I felt the storyline was a bit weak. The story has them travelling from one location to another then to another and so on without much story development. During this time their characters are developing but not so much the story. Another aspect of the game which could have been improved is the combat. I was not aware there would be so much stealth involved which can make the encounters quite tedious and repetitive. One example would be when clearing out an area and only have one Clicker left out of about ten infected and it notices you and manages to bit and kill you leaving you to do the whole encounter again and quite frustrated. Besides these issues I feel The Last of Us is an amazing game and has significantly raised the bar in certain areas. Hopefully with the massive success due to this other game development companies will improve these areas.
argo
Author: Vinny Staggliano
Review Added 2014-12-20
Review Rating N/A/100 0 votes
Some people don't like Ben Affleck simply because he was one half of "Bennifer" - his relationship with Jennifer Lopez and the tabloid lot that came with it. But, I for one, am a fan. Take away stuff like Pearl Harbour, Gigli, and Daredevil, and this man can act. And act well. Now, it seems, he has proven himself as an excellent director. The under-rated 2007 movie Gone Baby Gone and 2010's brilliant The Town witnessed Affleck's first two gigs in the directors chair. His third effort, Argo, sees him as not only director and actor but also as producer. It's his best directed movie too.

The movie itself is based around the 1979 Iranian crisis and the events that became known as the Canadian Caper. Amid the chaos of when Iranian militants storm the US Embassy in Tehran in retaliation for the nation's sheltering the recently deposed Shah, more than 50 of the staff are taken as hostages, but six escape and hide in the home of the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). With the diplomats situation kept a secret, the US State Department look for ways to get them safely out of Iran. No easy task. At this point, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck), leads the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran under the guise that the diplomats were indeed actually Canadians scouting for a location for a forthcoming major Hollywood picture called "Argo" in the Iranian capital. A crazy idea but one, believe it or not, is true.

At times, the movie is tense, exciting and occasionally darkly comic. An excellent ensemble cast, including John Goodman, Victor Garber, Bryan Cranston and Kerry Bishe, make it one of 2012's finest films. Argo has an energy that sweeps the viewer along right up to the tarmac-chase at Tehran airport in the climax.

Truth is stranger than fiction. Well, yes. That's Hollywood for you.
noel gallagher and the high flying birds
Author: Vinny Staggliano
Review Added 2014-12-17
Review Rating N/A/100 0 votes
With the demise of Oasis back in 2009, it was brother Liam that first emerged from the ashes of the split with his new outfit Beady Eye's debut effort Different Gear, Still Speeding that kept fans of the Manchester group ready for more. Then it was over to the senior Gallagher brother.

Having taking inspiration from the Jefferson Airplane album track "High Flying Birds", the self-titled debut Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds opens with the cinematic and epic "Everybody's On The Run". A long intro and enormous vocals, this track could fit on an Oasis album during the band's mid-90's explosive Britpop days - yet it has an air of maturity about it.

"Dream On" is Noel being Noel. It's got all the 60's and early 70's influences written all over. "Excuse me if I spoke too soon/My eyes have always followed you around the room" sings the guitarist on "If I Had A Gun". One of the most gorgeous of Noel's songs, not just on this collection, but on any record the man has put out since his career began almost 20 years ago.

"The Death Of You And Me" was the album's first single. In hindsight, there was better options to put out first, but the song is as catchy as it is clever. Full of hooks, mellotron riffs, trumpets and that classic 60's feel to it. Pure Noel. As it "(I Wanna Live In A Dream) In My Record Machine". It was written during Oasis' Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants album in 2000. Here, and twelve years later, featuring euphoric guitar licks, a glorious choir section, it gets the High Flying Birds makeover. The finished product is phenomenal.

Things get a little more up-tempo (and the closest thing to dance music you will hear from any ex-member of Oasis) on "AKA...What A Life". Minimal lyrics, it will still be hard to remain still listening to this in a live setting.

Like "Dream On", "Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks" also has all of Noel's influences on it's sleeve as well as it's interesting lyrical content. "AKA...Broken Arrow" is another new song and one that wouldn't have been out of place on "(What's The Story?) Morning Glory". "Leave me peace/I'm all alone with my angel/She's dying a dream/So I could live my life" he sings. Lyrically, it's one of Gallagher Snr's finest moments on record.

"(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach" oozes Marc Bolan meets John Lennon. But with that Mancunian twist. How does he do it? Finally, "Stop The Clocks" closes the record. The elusive song, that Oasis fans had been waiting about a decade to hear after Noel declared it his masterpiece some years back. But he says that a lot. "What if I'm already dead/How would I know" is the spooky chorus in the psychedelic, uplifiting album-closer.

All in all, it's the best collection of songs Noel has produced since the mid-90's. Now over to you, Gallagher Jnr.
FIFA 13
Author: barca-rob
Review Added 2014-12-15
Review Rating N/A/100 0 votes
The latest edition in EA Sports' FIFA series witnesses a fine and detailed display of gameplay that closely resembles the real thing. When playing, the first thing you'll notice is the first touch feature. This calculates a player's ability to receive a pass based on his skill, his position, and the speed of the ball. In short, a missile-like hoof across the pitch will no longer be obediently and magnetically attracted to a team mate's foot. Sure, the likes of Andres Iniesta and Edin Hazard can - and do - take down incredible 50-yard passes comfortably, but other players, such an unfit Alessandro Nesta, an out-of-form Robbie Keane or a just-back-from-injury Charlie Adam will need to take drastic measures like slowing down, re-positioning, or just preparing to chase the thing when it ricochets off their shins.

Commentary has also improved. Martin Tyler and Alan Smith add their Sky Sports-esque words of wisdom, making a game feel like the real thing from the barstool on a Sunday afternoon, while Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend concentrate on the cup games. All commentators will throw in little facts mid-game, such as Alan Smith pontificating about how the Etihad Stadium regenerated the east Manchester area. In a nice little touch, Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves gives mid-match injury analysis, while Alan McInally gives us updates from other ongoing matches when in career mode. It all adds to this sense of occasion, something EA is also building on by enhancing Fifa 13's connection with the real sport. If you fancy having the commentary on in any other language, Inter Milan hero Giuseppe Bergomi is on hand in Italian ("Gol. Francescoooo Totti! Totti! Tooootti!!!) while a 10 second "Goooooooooooooooooool" in Spanish never gets old. Commentary is available in several languages from other real TV commentators.

Added this year also is the revised EA Sports Football Club section. Here, you'll find a catalogue page where you can spend the XP points they've earned in other sections of the game, buying classic kits, new goal celebrations, licensed boots, pro-player upgrades and other desirable swag.

The only down sides are the virtual pro mode - you have to start off as a 17 year old and work your way up. Maybe it's EA Sports' way of keeping you addicted and determined with the game until the release of the next instalment in Sept 2013. A nice touch however, is that when you play numerous seasons (a dozen or so), you can have the option of retirement and going into football management. But, by which time, all of the famous players of today would have been well retired. Except maybe an ageing Neymar or Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.

In all, it's EA Sports' finest moment. A few tweaks to certain aspects (such as the inclusion of the Camp Nou and Santiago Bernebeu stadia to name but a very few), and FIFA 14 could well be flawless. 'Til next year.