Ned Newberry - TrendFlux

Posts by Ned:

    Split Decisions

    January 21st, 2013

     

    When I first started writing this article last year (it takes me a while to build up steam, ok?), I was thinking about how my time at university had been supported by some seriously hefty sessions of local multiplayer with my friends. You know, between all the drinking, partying, and the occasional lecture. Throughout those three magnificent years, we tried and tested various different games. Mostly on the Xbox 360, although we did have a brief stint with Motor Storm: Pacific Rift on the PS3. Our rooms in halls were too small for any kind of motion controlled gaming, but none of us actually owned a wii and let’s face it, aside from Mario kart, what were we missing?

     

    Cue fanboyism.


     

    So the Xbox became the hub for our multiplayer parties when we weren’t, you know, ladding it up somewhere. My first year of university coincided with the Halo: Reach beta which was fortuitous as one of the first friends I made at university was a die-hard Halo fan. I played on my tiny TV while he projected the Reach beta on his bedroom wall, but as we made more friends, we gained more soldiers. These weren’t nerds either; these were the kind of guys that made other guys feel insecure and made girls swoon. We even played with a guy who was a shoe-in for the marines (the actual marines, not spacemarines). Like I’ve said before videogames don’t have the same ‘it’s for nerds’ stigma anymore. For example, my girlfriend got a PS Vita for Christmas and she goes to Art College; they love to party.
     

    But the other significant reason why we got guys playing who’d barely picked up a controller was because of split screen. Ever since the N64 launched with four controller ports, gamers everywhere have been able to crowd round one console and play games together. At first, this was mostly a competitive scenario but I remember playing Double Dragon with my brother, Perfect Dark with one of my best friends from school, driving warthogs around on Silent Cartographer on Halo, and crouching behind the same cover as my friend on Gears of War. But we weren’t fighting each other, we were fighting together. See, I love co-op but you know what I don’t love? Having to team up with some random on the Internet to play. I like being able to clear a room of enemies and high five the guy next to me or take food breaks at the same time and talk about all the awesome things we just did.
     

    “I totally pwned that n00b!”


     

    But come 2012, there really weren’t any decent split screen co-op games around, and I was ready to bemoan the lack of said games but then it happened. Firstly, we got Resident Evil 6 which, while it was a shadow of Resi games past, gives the option to play all 3 campaigns in split-screen. Then we got Borderlands 2, a game that fixed all the problems of its already competent first instalment, resulting in an amazing, modern RPG that you can play entirely in split screen. Then came the big one, Halo 4. While the campaign may not be the best of any Halo by a long stretch, in split screen it’s a blast and then there’s the entirety of Spartan Ops available and you can also take mates online for the excellent multiplayer. Far Cry 3 offers a meaty campaign to play locally as well, and let’s not forget the ever faithful if slightly dull Black ops 2, which offers an evenings entertainment via split screen.
     

    I don’t want to sound like yet another forumite whose friends are too cheap to buy games, but I still maintain that TrendFlux’s own master of fashion Joe O’Neill bought his 360 because he played Halo split screen with me while wearing a snazzy scarf. We will never get more people to realise how rewarding hardcore games can be if they have to shell out for consoles to play them. With the proliferation of downloadable content that has surfaced recently, we could even afford to let developers sell split-screen to gamers as a downloadable extra? This would lead to developers making dedicated split screen modes for their games that are not the hashed out afterthoughts that we sometimes see.

     

    But more importantly, this is the real social aspect of video games. People crowded around a TV ,enjoying a shared experience in the same way we enjoy movies. With the next generation looming (the Nintendo iPad monstrosity doesn’t count, simply because I’m bitter and I’m too poor to buy one), if couch gaming truly disappears then we are no better than the anti-social psychopaths that the papers make us out to be.

     


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    Skyfall Review

    October 30th, 2012


     

    Sam Mendes and 007 deliver their message to the nation…

     

    A learned university lecturer once told me that James Bond has served to represent the social consciousness of the nation. Sorry if this sounds a bit highbrow, but for those of your at uni, this is how you’ve got to start thinking or you’ll never impress that nice girl/guy who sits next to you in seminars.

     

    The Theory does make sense. Connery and Lazenby were the post-war, austerity figures of obedience that young women wanted for their rugged ability and mothers wanted because they were charming gentlemen serving Queen and country. Then came Moore with his groovy, cheeky charm that was ingrained into the free love, swinging seventies. And towards the end of the eighties, as The Cold War was reaching its peak, we required a more aggressive Bond in Timothy Dalton, who was less a man of passion and more a man of punch-in-the-face. We then had a more modern, cosmopolitan Bond in Pierce Brosnan, which did seem to link him closer to Fleming’s original design but it has to be conceded that present provocateur Daniel Craig provides the best portrayal of the Bond in the novels. Craig manages to walk the line between philosophical contemplation to physical confrontation that was so excellently embodied by Fleming’s writing of the archetypal agent.

     

    This is especially true in the twenty-third Bond, Skyfall. The film sees Bond sacrificed by M only to return to serve his country once again. Without wishing to spoil anything for anyone who doesn’t know the way to their local cinema, the set pieces in the film are fantastic. Despite his previous credentials, Sam Mendes can direct some great action when aided by the right team. But despite having all the elements we’ve come to expect from Bond, this is not what marks it out as one of the best in the franchise.

     

     

    No, what makes this film so enjoyable is its delivery of an allegoric message specific to the UK for our time. Bond himself, for example,  is betrayed by his superiors and he really feels it, just as the general public may feels towards the government who lead them into an economic crisis. But of course, it’s much more complicated than that and Bond understands this, so rather than bitching and moaning about it, he recognises that he must continue to serve. Judi Dench portrays M in a new light. She is still the no nonsense boss, but she is tired and weary of the modern world, which makes her the most believably vulnerable character in the piece. This is all tied up by Javier Bardem’s portrayal of villain Silva. He is an entirely ambiguous figure and his purpose is unclear until the end of the film. Whether he is mad or methodical we do not know, even his sexuality is called into question. Like the current economic crisis or radical terrorism, these are not problems with clear solutions, rather they are the sums of their parts.

     

    This leads to the opinion that this Bond is an outstanding piece of cinema because it does what only a Bond film can. It provides a commentary on the social situation in the UK and Mendes’ message to us all is that we are facing our most dangerous threat yet, but instead of pointing fingers and blaming each other, what if we support our leaders and work together? As is suggested in Adele’s excellent title song, ‘we will stand tall and face it all together’. James Bond seems to think this is a good idea, maybe you should too?

     

    4.5/5 “Bond is back, and better than ever”

     


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    Judge Dredd Review

    October 7th, 2012


     

    Is this the rebirth for the Original Lawman of Mega-City One or is the franchise Judge Dead?

     

    Way back in the nineties, I was jealous child. Jealous of my older brother because he had recently acquired the Judge Dredd movie book and a seriously desirable Judge Dredd t-shirt. Now this doesn’t sound like much, but these items served as a glimpse into a movie that both of us were too young to see. So like the minuscule malcontent that I was, I conspired with a friend to filch his older brother’s VHS copy of the 1995 Judge Dredd movie. It was 1997, I shouldn’t have seen that movie, but I did, and I loved it.

     

    However time passed, and I then found myself equipped with a point of reference for Mr Stallone’s hammy performance when I read the 2000 AD comic series. Here I found a grim, dystopian future in which the main character is an emotionless enforcer of the brutal and uncompromising legal system of Mega-City One. This contrasted poorly with the 1995 film and this is one of the areas where the new film succeeds. Dredd portrays one of the best versions of the far future a lived-in, gritty and imperfect future where there are no pristine glowing walk ways or silver spacecraft. This helps the film to achieve a familiarity that makes this high concept far more accessible for the casual cinema-goer, as well as the die-hard fans.

     

    I said die-hard, not Die Hard!

     

    The film sees the cranky cop Dredd (Karl Urban) and rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) attempting to regain control of a Megablock (not the Lego knock off) from the infamous ma-ma gang and their aptly named leader Ma-Ma (Lena Heady).

     

    It would seem that as an adaption of the original comic book, Peter Travis’s attempt is far more successful in terms of setting. It also surpasses the 1995 film in terms of the violence. This serves as a double edged sword. On the one hand, the grotesque deaths and visceral firefights help to portray the brutality of both the villains and the heroes, but it can be excessive at times, and coupled with the film’s signature slow motion effect, this is even more apparent.

     

    This slow motion effect is another of the film’s excesses which, while initially impressive, is used a little too generously throughout the film. Having said that, the action and set pieces are incredibly well shot, reminiscent of the 80′s action movies of old. These scenes are punctuated by interaction between Dredd and Anderson, which relative to the genre of the film are quite intelligent examining the nature of true justice with Anderson’s more liberal sensibilities juxtaposed with Dredd’s totalitarian and at times fascistic edict.

     

    Urban gives a good turn as the lugubrious law giver but it cannot be said that it is a challenging role. The real praise should be given to the two leading ladies. Thirlby plays Anderson as innocent but possesses a grim determination, making her motives and actions believable in this world. Meanwhile, as fans of Game of Thrones will know, Lena Heady excels as the ruthless, powerful female leader. In Dredd, her character of Ma-Ma is savage but calculating and there seems to be a frustration at the other male characters because she herself envies the power of masculinity over femininity.

     

    In a Summer of huge blockbusters, Dredd shines out as a robust action romp with a few missteps but with some thoughtful narrative elements. Great action, decent characters and narrative make are worth a go, this film does not betray the law.

    4/5
     


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    Why I Love Video Games (And You Should To!)

    September 17th, 2012

     

    This summer’s E3 conference and Gamescom showed off some great games. Admittedly, most of the demos shown were less game play and more straight up plays.  At E3 at least the developers demoing these games were taking on the role of digital actors to best showcase their games’ features and didn’t really show us what the game is actually like to play. Despite this I still couldn’t help but feel a buzz of excitement as I watched the conference and when trying to explain this excitement to some of my not-so-nerdy friends I had difficulty keeping up with them as they walked away.

     

    So here on the media giant that is Trenflux I am going to explain why I love video games today.

     

    They’ve come a long way

    My first console was a Sega Master System that my mum bought for me out of The Friday ad. Simpler times… I remember being amazed by the games I was playing then so to think of all the amazing scenes I’ve witnessed in the course of playing games shows the huge leaps that video games have made in almost two decades. I’m doubly happy I don’t have to play Alex Kidd any more.

     

     

    They’re not just for (Alex) Kids any more

    Ok, ok. Any self-respecting Mail reader will tell you that videogames are poisoning the minds of children everywhere but the games where you murder everyone on screen aren’t depicted with the ‘sophistication’ of Doom or the Mortal Kombat franchises any more. Many games give you a justification for fighting and some even give you the choice not to fight. Look at Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Woeful boss fights aside, there’s actually an achievement for not executing a single kill. In other games, the violence is used to make a point. Michael Bay-esque ExplosionFests like Call of Duty are fundamentally anti-war, and Max Payne 3 chooses to portray violence in a stylised fashion. The numerous killcam shots, slow-mo bullet riddling and gruesome close quarter kills are part of an ultra-violent style built by Rockstar which could be compared to a Michael Mann film or, more recently, Nicholas Winding Refydn’s Drive.

     

    Combat mechanics should be considered as being no different from helping Pacman get his fruit; it’s a process of design. It’s there to make you feel powerful and intelligent as you out-think and out-perform your enemies on the battlefield. If you’ve played Gears of War, a game about ‘roided meatheads using chainsaws to dice up aliens, the game’s fundamental mechanics are about negotiating cover. Developers don’t sit there thinking “how can we upset as many mums and grant-hungry psychologists as possible?” They want to engage the player with challenging environments and enemies that make the player think. When was the last time an episode of Geordie Shore did that?

     

    Answer: Never

    It’s not all guns n’ ammo

    Yes, there are a lot of squaddie shooters and space marines eviscerating aliens but think Portal, Forza, Minecraft. All these titles don’t have a single bullet fired. Yes, Minecraft lets you thwack a zombie on the head with a shovel but it also asks you to manage resources in order to build vast structures. Portal has little or no violence but it has puzzles that will boil your brain. Forza becomes the most realistic driving sim in its latest iteration and lets you drive your dream cars. Then there’s the wealth of sports titles, such as the mighty FIFA franchise, providing universal enjoyment for a lads night in.

     

    It’s not just for Nerds any more

    Now don’t get me wrong on this. I’m not a fan of motion-controlled gaming since it’s provided the gaming community with an inundation of pap party games that don’t even deserve a place in the bargain bin at your local service station. But these new peripherals are responsible for getting your mate’s hot sister to play games with you (and your nan). Yes, gaming is now the pursuit of others besides us who only exercise our thumbs. It’s garnered the attention of celebrities who now do voice work and attend events like the VGA awards presented by the king of voluminous nostrils, Charlie Sheen. There’s even competitive leagues like the prestigious MLG which Boss man Nathan and comic writer and thumb stick Ninja Christian once flirted with (seriously, don’t play those guys at Halo; they’ll make you look foolish).

     

    Every day of the week.

     

    It get’s better…

    Whether you’ve seen the epic future action from Watchdogs and Star Wars 1313 (probably won’t see these this generation, folks), or the epic anvil engine at work in Assassin’s Creed 3, or perhaps the underrated Dishonoured with its super cool mix of magic and steam punk there’s so many awesome games coming in the future. Halo 4? Imagine getting your mates down in your halls room or your dingy student house to host a phat game of splitscreen slayer; even the girls might be impressed (nope). Throw in the new Hitman and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, and you can see the future of gaming is bright. Further down the line, we’ll be getting the Wii U and (if internet rumblings are to be believed) the next Xbox…

     

    So there you have it, a few reasons why gaming is great. So if you feel the same way or you’ve never heard of Sonic or Mario, grab a controller, because in this Golden age of Games, there’s something for everyone.

     


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    The Dark Knight Rises Review

    July 24th, 2012

     

    Does Batman Rise to the Occasion?

     

    I’ve been reading Batman for a long time and the character has been at the centre of some awesome story arcs such as Knightfall, War Games, and The Dark Knight Returns. And what I’ve always liked about Nolan’s Batman movies is that they’ve taken inspiration directly from the source material, especially the more modern stories. However, I feel that they may have slightly lost sight of the character that is Batman.

     

    This film takes place 8 years after the events of the Dark Knight and old Wayne (Bruce, not Rooney) is looking a little worse for wear. Unfortunately, there’s no 80s montage to get him back to his old self, but we do see him and the other established characters plus Bane (Tom Hardy), Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) and John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in what feels sort of like the Return of the Jedi of Nolan’s Trilogy, in that it may be the worst of the three. But bear in mind, the worst of the Nolan Batman movies is still a pretty decent flick.

     

    Pretty Decent.

     

    First off, the set pieces and special effects are unbelievable, and not in a Michael Bay-stick-of-Acme-Dynamite way. These are practical effects that are a real treat to look at, and the fight choreography is phenomenal. Interestingly, I saw the film at the BFI where the bass is so loud that every time someone took a punch to the face, the woman in front of me flinched causing her seat to rocket back into my knee, slightly marring my viewing experience. But this does show how well done the fights were to give this kind of impact.

     

    The performances are great for the most part, with the same great quality from the first two movies. Special mention should go to Michael Caine whose portrayal of Alfred is particularly affecting this time round (I definitely didn’t get a bit teary during one of his speeches; I’m known for being a legendary hard man). My only slight gripe with the acting is Hardy’s portrayal of Bane; they still haven’t quite managed to sort out his muffled voice problem so he ends up sounding like Skeletor crossed with Darth Vader. I also think that, whilst I found the development of Bane interesting, it humanised him in a way that made him seem far less threatening, especially when compared to Ledger’s Joker.

     

     

    Some would argue that this is an unfair comparison, but since this is the final chapter in the ‘Nolan Trilogy’, then such a comparison is inevitable. But why even call it a trilogy? The tones of the three films are so varied and incongruent that it’s hard to feel a sense of catharsis at the film’s end. It feels like Nolan’s been so concerned with thematic exposition that he’s forgotten about the central character and his journey. This would be fine if it was an original concept like Inception, but this is an adaptation of Batman created by Bob Kane. I grew up with this character and I’m not sure that Nolan has done that character justice now his trilogy is finished. Maybe that’s just my inner fan boy talking but without nerds like me, these movies wouldn’t even get made and I feel that this point may have been forgotten.

     

    As a film, the Dark Knight Rises can’t be faulted. It’s a perfect piece of action cinema. But as an adaptation of arguably the greatest comic book character ever, I’m sorry to say it fails. The recent surge in the success of these comic book films should introduce these characters to new audiences, not redefine them in a way that is acceptable to those who aren’t able to suspend dis-belief. So go see the film and enjoy, but if you want to preserve the origins of one of the best modern mythologies, go pick up a comic and see the true Dark Knight Rise.

     

    ‘Not all I hoped for but still one of the best films in a long while’

    4/5

     


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    The Amazing Spider-Man Review

    July 12th, 2012

     

    Amazing Fantasy…

     

    Everybody loves Spider-man right? The first of the Sam Raimi trilogy was the first film to pass $100 million in one weekend, so that’s not bad, eh? So how does this one stack up? Well, it’s better. When people started talking about this movie it was reported that a lot of inspiration was drawn from Brian Michael Bendis’s Ultimate Spiderman series. Both these comics and this film share the same heritage in that they are both reboots of Spiderman’s origin story.

     

    The fact that this film borrowed many plot points from Bendis’s series proves the Amazing Spider-Man’s relevance today. This is to say that Spider-Man has always been the teenage super-hero and in this world of fast moving technology and social media, the identity of the teenager is forever changing. So for those who argue that it is too soon after Raimi’s films to reboot the franchise should ask how relevant Raimi’s films are to a modern socially-connected teenager?

     

     

    In order to achieve this relevance the casting of Spider-man is key. Like James Bond or Batman, the character is well known enough to have defined characteristics that audiences expect. Toby Maguire, Raimi’s man of action fulfilled these characteristics in a very two-dimensional sense, but often came off as naïve and slightly unrealistic. This is not the case with new man Andrew Garfield. Now, I find it very hard to enjoy a teen heartthrob on screen (trust me, Taylor Lautner’s cronies fend off my hate mail like Casillas in front of goal), but Garfield’s portrayal of Peter Parker and Spider-Man really impressed, his performance being (somewhat appropriately) far more three-dimensional. Garfield is both comical and conflicted; Maguire’s transformation from zero to hero was brief and almost instantaneous but it is possibly to the credit of Mark Webb and his team, as well as Garfield’s craft, that his transformation is more gradual and thoughtful. It is clear in Garfield’s performance that yes, Peter Parker is a young man who is exhilarated by his new found strength but he is also a young man who has been abandoned by his parents and has lost the closest person he has to a father. Garfield demonstrates this as he moves nimbly between comedy and tragedy in the same breath.

     

    But no hero is complete without a damsel in distress, and Emma Stone fills this role nicely. While some critics have complained that this is just the same story told again, the fact that Gwenn Stacy is the love interest here serves to disprove this theory. Stone strikes a healthy balance between damsel and damn useful, and the relationship between Peter and Gwenn’s father Police Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) provides a comical allegory of the disapproving father of a boy’s first love. Rhys Ifans gives a good performance as the film’s villain Dr. Curt Connors but perhaps may be a little too sympathetic to be a truly menacing villain.

     

    "Hello there. Please allow me to destroy you."

     

    All in all, this film proves that like the comic book industry these characters can be revamped if care is taken with the process and The Amazing Spider-Man has shown this can be a success. My only regret is that it may be overlooked, being so close to the release of The Dark Knight Rises, but it is this writer’s opinion that Spider-Man is far more tragic than Batman. It is his constant grasp of hope that is repeatedly dashed that makes him so intriguing, and were it for a slightly better villain, this movie could have been on a par with Nolan’s titan. But The Amazing Spider-Man captures both the tragedy and the humour of the character and reminds us all in these turbulent times that the true hero is always hopeful.

     

    ‘A great retelling that’s an essential summer movie despite slightly soft villain.’
    4/5
     


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    Avengers Assemble Review

    May 3rd, 2012


     

    Band of the best……

     

    Avengers Assemble (or just ‘The Avengers’, for those of us who are too cool for skool) has been met with both critical and commercial success. Tracking north of $150 million in its first weekend, this film has reached the dizzying heights it was expected to reach when it was first conceived. But it sounds as though Marvel studios really had a difficult job on their hands to create a film that both fanboys and the modern cinema-goer could enjoy. We could buck the trend, as it were, and tell you that they didn’t succeed, but here at TrendFlux, we like trends, because they’re trendy, ok? So did Marvel succeed with this film? Guess what? They really did.

     

    Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. There was always a danger that when you put this many stars together, it would be impossible to fit all of them in the spotlight. This didn’t happen for the most part, but with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye character (who has only been glimpsed in Thor in a brief cameo), there’s a lack of back-story that doesn’t quite justify his motivations. For the fans who know the character, there’s no problem, but for others, you’re just thinking, “Why the hell does this guy use a bow and arrow when he can just use a gun? What a chump!” But in the end, he gets a fair few moments of magnificence, so it doesn’t really matter.

     

    Also, some might say that the depiction of Captain America doesn’t quite tie up with the comics but some might also wanna shut up. That’s always a weak argument with comic movies, because there are so many different interpretations of these characters.

     

    And that’s it. The rest of this movie is everything that I as a fan boy and film buff could have hoped for. Hiring Joss Whedon as the helm for this film just may be Marvel’s greatest decision since putting spider and man together. He completely understands these characters, why they matter, and why they’re interesting, despite the super powers. The most exciting part of this film was in fact not the action scenes, but seeing these established characters interact with one another. The dialogue isn’t clichéd, it flows naturally, and a lot of the time is actually pretty funny. This isn’t simply the nerdy self-referential humour that is typical of comic book movies, but instead there are some genuinely amusing moments that had the whole cinema laughing. This really is Whedon’s M.O. He can take these larger-than-life characters and make the affecting and amusing at the same time.

     

    Or in this case, larger-than-larger-than-life.

     

    However, as is the film’s message, it took the right team to win the day and all of the returning characters play their parts incredibly. Special mention should go to new boy Mark Ruffalo, playing Bruce Banner, who manages to convey a charming character with an internal, hidden menace.

     

    The film manages to make the interactions between the characters take centre stage, but still weaves in great action that feels visceral and fitting to each character’s style of combat. And unlike other blockbuster action movies (like  Transformers), it doesn’t feel bloated but perfectly paced and perfectly placed within the story.

     

    It should come as no surprise that this movie is a great experience. I myself have seen it 3 times, in 2D, Real 3D and IMAX. I would have seen it in 4D too, but I’m not sure I fancy the smell of Hulk as part of my movie-going experience. I can highly recommend this film to anyone because it manages to tick all the boxes. So now it’s time to leave your computer, assemble (sorry) some friends and go see one of the best films of the year.

     

    6/5 "Wait, how is that even possible?"


     


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    Batman: Arkham City

    December 26th, 2011


     

    “Holy sequel, Batman!”
     
    Alright, alright. We know this one is a bit late but the freshers among you will soon learn that being a third year is less fun than being run over by a bus. Remember though, the January sales are soon upon us, so if you’re still interested in our opinion, have a read.

     

    Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to the hugely successful Batman: Arkham Asylum… but you already knew that. What you may not know is Arkham City is a very different beast to the first game. Instead of having a tight Metroid-style interconnected hub world, this new bat-tale takes place in a massive sandbox.. er.. city. This then leads to a mixed bag of results.

     

    Mixed like these nuts.

     

    On the one hand, Rocksteady are able to show off the beautiful world they’ve created using the unreal 3 engine and, well, it’s not beautiful. Arkham City is full of bodies and wreckages but at least they’re good looking dead bodies and wreckages, right? But on the other hand, the narrative now feels a bit disjointed because of the ‘point A to point B’ traversal and all the distractions in between. Also, because the story takes place mostly around the countless villains that have been stuffed in to this metaphorical bat-turkey, they end up getting very little screen time. This is a real shame because the design of these characters rivals even Nolan’s conceptions.

     

    Other problems arise due to the huge volume of things to do in Arkham City, which is no bad thing itself (you’ll be able to waste hours searching for Riddler trophies or rescuing the various political prisoners who’ve been imprisoned within Arkham City’s walls). But the problem comes with the minimal instruction you get from the game as to how you should go about these sub-objectives and it results in you feeling less world’s greatest detective and more world’s greatest defective.

     

     

    But that’s a tiny percentage of what makes up this game. The rest is pure gold. For Arkham City, Rocksteady have really polished the brilliant mechanics from Arkham Asylum. The combat is the same basic dance of strikes and counters but now instead of engaging 5 hostiles, you now take on 10. This means that new moves such as double takedowns, projectile interceptions and other ninja moves that we wish we could pull off on a night out. Clothes-lining a guy after pulling him towards us with our bat claw looks much cooler than vomiting on the pavement. It’s the same story with the “predator stealth” only now in the huge open spaces of Arkham City the challenge of taking out goons without being seen is even more fun.

     

    See, that’s what made Arkham Asylum the amazing game it was and it’s what Arkham City hugely improves on. When you play Arkham City you feel like Batman, whether it’s leaping off a roof and pulling up in a glide or battling one of the villains in the vastly improved boss battles. That is what license games NEED to do. So if you haven’t already got this game and you fancy a good January deal it’s time to get in your Bat-mobile and buy this game.

     

    4/5 "Only improves from the first game"

     



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    Deus Ex: Human Revolution

    September 22nd, 2011


     

    Eidos’s augmented reality…

     

    I have a confession to make, dear readers. No, I have not committed adultery at university (which is something that we here at Trendflux seem to encourage). My confession is that I’ve never played the original Deus Ex. Cue gasps. I always thought of it as a dusty old relic from a bygone era when the PC ruled the gaming world. But as I am now far older, slightly wiser and much fatter, I understand that this game was the foundation for something verging on perfection. You know, like when the Colonel thought of the secret herbs and spices.

     

    "It's Kokam Seed, Fennel, and Coriander (KFC), duh!"

     

    Of course I’m talking about Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the game that sees you take on the role of Adam Jensen in the beautifully realized world of Earth in the year 2027. Alas, we aren’t committing adultery with aliens in night clubs, nor are we ‘Gnoming‘ at space universities (To be honest, I don’t think even anyone ‘gnomes’ at current universities, except for Guy Vero). Earth is pretty similar except that, as sure as Moore is law, technology has taken giant leaps forward. Now, people can equip themselves with augmentations from brain chips to robotic arms. These can be acquired as easily as a pair of skinny jeans from Topman, except they won’t enable you to punch a hole in a wall. That’s the first brilliant quality of Deus Ex; the way the world has been created so believably and down to every last detail. Even if you simply enter someone’s home, you’ll be able to learn what kind of person they are. Or were…

     

    Why do I say were? Because in Deus Ex, you make the rules. You can shoot, stab, punch and blow up whoever you want. The choice is yours. This brings us to Deus Ex’s true party piece. You can literally complete the game in many different ways. Take one of the first missions for example. You are tasked with entering a warehouse, but in your way are four guards. One way of tackling this challenge would be to simply gun down the guards and walk through the door. This would involve using the fluid cover system and punchy weapons in an epic scene that rivals any of the top shooters around. Or how about stealth? With a little bit of exploration, you’ll be able to find ways to get around the guards in a position where you can finish them off with the awesome close quarter takedowns. Or you could avoid the confrontation entirely with a well-placed crate and the flick of a switch to avoid the electrified roof. Or you could…

     

     

    All these options will result in experience points, and points mean prizes, such as new augmentations for Jensen’s body. Want to be more gun than Nun? Buy some arm upgrades to negate recoil when firing your weapons and some dermal amour that provides added protection during firefights. But if stealth is your choice, then get yourself some radar upgrades and a cloaking device. There are a host of upgrades to help you on your way to the games conclusion but there’s one thing that will hinder you getting there. The mandatory boss fights. Here, all choice is stripped from you apart from what weapon to use. Were it not for these pointless battles this game would get full marks from us. The narrative, world, and gameplay all make for one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in a long time. If you make just one choice today, make the choice to buy this game.

     

    4/5 "one minor flaw, otherwise perfect"


     

     


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    A Summer Of Games

    August 22nd, 2011


     

    Summer Games make me feel fine…

     

    Summer time isn’t enjoyed as much by the gaming community as say… the bikini-wearing female variety. Admittedly, you can play DS or PSP outside in the sun but it mid-way through a game of Zelda, not only may you be affected by sun glare, but apparently a passing rioter may decide to swap it for a pair of stolen Reeboks. Nonetheless, I have been playing a few games this summer; some good, some bad, and some downright abysmal.

     

    Infamous 2


    The first Infamous game was massively underrated and was overlooked by many just like the wrapstar from KFC (trust me). The second game keeps the same formula of hopping around a city. Except this time, it’s not just infested by crooks with guns and other super-powered blokes but also with mutant freaks who you can batter with new weapon ‘The Amp’. To be frank, I don’t know which is more terrifying. Infamous 2’s mechanics are solid with some really nice tweaks and added reply value thanks to the different good/bad storylines depending on your actions. This is an exclusive worth having a PS3 for, so if you like your open world games and need some summer fun, get down the shops.

     

    4/5 "An improvement to the first; worth getting"

     

    Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters


    As Trendflux regulars will know, I really liked the Green Lantern movie even though the rest of the world hated it more than John Prescott hates slim-fast. But my fanboyness will only stretch so far. The game is based on some rushed together side story to the film which sees you randomly punching genero-bots in the face with a green fist. While it is fun to be Green Lantern in a game finally, it isn’t fun to play a dumbed-down God of War with a character that looks like Ryan Reynolds dipped in porridge. While it may not be the worst game ever made, it’s certainly one of the worst license games around.

     

    1/5 "Really not that good..."

     

    Red Faction: Armageddon


    Red Faction: Guerrilla was a revelation as it debuted Volition’s Geo-mod 2.0 engine and packaged it in hugely enjoyable if un-original, game. Armageddon, however, brings the same destruction but in a more focused linear adventure. Whereas Guerrilla’s fight took place on the surface, Armageddon’s fight is below it. With battles reminiscent of Aliens, sci-fi buffs will need a pair of extra undergarments in preparation for the massive set pieces. But in a way, I was a little disappointed to see the free-roaming freedomness of Guerrilla go out the window, much like random goons in low-budget action movies.

     

    3/5 "Very hit and miss, like my shooting"

     

    Transformers: Dark of the Moon


    Last year, High Moon studios released the excellent Transformers: War for Cybertron. Taking a leaf out of Rocksteady’s book (who made Arkham Asylum), they told a tale not from taken directly from any film. This time, tasked with making a game to accompany a film, they have found some success. You really do feel like those large metal chaps from the movie, but you lose out in terms of the melee combat that’s depicted in the film. The comprehensive multiplayer from War for Cybertron has been reprised here, but it is a far simpler, less balanced version. Luckily, it is still filled with plenty of high-pitched American brats to blast with a fusion cannon. But ultimately, Transformers feels more like a cracker toy; cheap, poorly made, and easily lost under the sofa.

     

    2/5 "A bit of a letdown"

     


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