Gaming

Warcraft: The Beginning Review

Warcraft tells the story of a clash between humans and orcs that occurs when the orcs invade the former’s world, Azeroth. The focus is on two mains heroes, Lothar and Durotan, their role in the fight, their beliefs and their following.

Travis Fimmel is the man portraying Lothar, and as he gives a very believable and multidimensional performance as the centre character in the film. He shows his dramatic acting chops and also his more humorous side, and he does it very well. Especially considering how everything around him is so CGI focused. Toby Kebbell plays Durotan and through the incredible motion captured used to transform him into an orc, he gives a superb performance, depicting the emotion and drive that his character possesses.

Duncan Jones did a remarkable job with his directing in this huge production. He kept it very true to the style of the games and whilst not going overboard with the nods to the video games, he paid homage to them wisely at the right moments. The scope is massive in the film, yet it stays grounded at all times and never seems to get out of reach with anything. The script is solid and simple and so it should as this is the movie that sets up the story that follows. Hopefully we see that story unfold on the big screen.

The VFX by Industrial Light and Magic, is absolutely stunning and although on one hand it looks non-realistic, on the other, it is spot on and stays true to the source and very much captures the feeling and vibe of Azeroth. The Orcs are very well captured on screen and specifically Guldan; the work by the VFX team is very impressive and really catches the eye.

The Production Design, makeup, costumes are all of top quality as well, with the armor and weapons for the humans looking absolutely stunning (the war room/armory looks amazing).

Warcraft is a film that sets up the world of Warcraft (no pun intended) with drive and purpose and gives the fans the movie that they were waiting for.

7.5/10

Star Wars Battlefront Alpha Review

Anyone that has played either Battlefront 1 or 2, has been anticipating this game for a long time. Considered to be amongst the best Star Wars game ever released anything below great for this new reboot will be a disappointment.

As soon as I got accepted for the closed alpha testing I was pumped and ready to go.  The only available modes to play in the alpha build, were for multiplayer, the Walker Assault on Hoth and for the missions, a survival one on Tatooine.  For the multiplayer, the lobby was very responsive and quick to get you in a new or an already ongoing game, in a 20v20 battle.  Very good connection was established at all times and there were minimal bugs, if any.  In this mode, the empire, which is in control of the Walkers is supposed to protect their AT-ATs until they reach and crush the rebel base.  On the other hand the rebels are trying to stop the assault by destroying the AT-ATs.  The main focus of the game are 3 sets of uplinks which the Rebels try to activate and the Imperials try to deactivate, the more they remain activated, the more time is granted to the Rebels in order to bombard the two AT-ATs until they are destroyed, if that is not achieved by the third and final set of uplinks the Empire comes out victorious.

The survival mission on Tatooine is very simple, and probably just a small taste of what the missions are really about.  There are 6 waves (at present, they have said there will be 15) of Stormtroopers and on occasions some AT-STs and as a Rebel awaiting rescue, you need to battle your way through them, either on your own or with a friend (there is no split screen).

All these are subject to changes though, including the weaponry choices which are quite limited as well as the primary attributes.  The only thing that is more concrete and will probably remain the same or similar to what is already in place is the gameplay.  Reminiscent of Battlefront 2 in many ways, using your blaster to shoot the enemy down seems to be more fun than ever, either playing in first or third person, zooming in or out, there is no real benefit by doing one or the other.  Zooming in doesn’t help your accuracy, just the field of view.  It is also possible to jump in the AT-AT or even an AT-ST (although easy to break) and they are a real boost in the attempt to hustle the Rebels, and probably required if their base is to be reached and destroyed-also easier to get more kills for your Imperial CV in your quest to top the leaderboard charts.

The spaceship dogfights, were the one thing I heard wasn’t enjoyable.  However after a few hours of doing everything else, I found myself jumping in an X-Wing with every chance I got.  It’s so much fun to shoot down other spaceships or even inflicting more damage to the AT-ATs in order to stop the empire from reaching their goal.  The map size restrictions were quite limiting but weren’t that big of a deal, especially when the enemy was on my 6 and I was trying to avoid their missiles that were coming my way.

Having played for the best part of 3 days, I am now confident to say that the team at DICE understand what they need to do to please the fans and at least as far as gameplay is concerned they have achieved what was expected of them and more.  All that remains to be seen is whether the depth in customizations, maps and modes that are available at launch will be of the same success as the way the game is played.

Is there anyone not excited about this game? Doubtful.

Gameplay: 9/10                                                                                                                                     Graphics: 9/10

ARK: Survival Evolved Review

As the title suggests, ARK is a survival game with dinosaurs.  One can easily draw the similarities with Rust and Minecraft which as it is, has been the inspiration for all of this kind of games.  The way I have described it to my friends is Rust with dinosaurs, but it is so much more than that and although it is only out as early access on steam, the game has quite an epic scope and only some of it has been realized as of yet.

Everyone who has played survival games would know that frustration and anger are bound to take over after you die and lose all of the goods in your inventory or a few of the dinosaurs you tamed are killed by some carnivorous creature or worse by some other people (cannibals really) that want a piece of the pie.  However that only enhances the joy you get when your dino-pet manages to stay alive for more than a couple of hours and you start piling up the stats (more likely health so that it can withstand the killer-jaw of raptors and the mighty Rex).

Taming is a simple yet painful task, firstly you need to drop the dinosaur unconscious by throwing punches, rocks with a slingshot or more efficiently tranquilizer arrows with a bow.  After that it takes from 5 minutes (a dino-duck called dodo) up to more than 3 hours for a T-Rex or a Brontosaurus and all the other huge and intimidating creatures of feeding it meat or berries (depending on its diet) and narcoberries (type of berries) which keep the creature unconscious until it’s fully tamed.  Furthermore they require your complete attention during that time, because if you leave them alone, as I learned the hard way (taming a Stegosaurus for 1h 30min) raptors or any other carnivorous dinosaur might jump at the opportunity to eat an easy meal of an unconscious animal.

We all know what is better than one dinosaur pet, 2.  Nevertheless like most games, it is most fun when some friend/s join you in your efforts to survive the weather, animals, cannibals (PVP) and of course try not forgetting to eat or drink.  Your pets will help you survive but you need to use your wits because whatever you say about the game and its features, the AI of your tamed friends is not really what you would call state of the art yet (let’s not forget this is still early access), and the same holds for commanding them and going berserk and aggroing every dinosaur in the neighborhood when you just want them to sit still.

On the negative side of things, there are still a lot of problems with the game as it is early access.  The worst of them is the GPU optimization, they have already tackled the issue but it’s still far off from what it should be, since the game is still causing problems and stressing graphic cards all over.  Some people are even struggling to get consistent 30+ FPS with great GPUs.  Moreover as I already pointed out, the AI needs to be improved, the UI hasn’t been finalized yet and it shows.  However those are not deal breakers, they are expected at this early phase, and the game still has a lot to offer beside that, making it more than enjoyable to play.

They might be riding the Jurassic World hype train, but I am not sure there is anyone out there who wouldn’t want to ride a few dinosaurs themselves and the 400k early access sales on steam less than 10 days after release (as of 11/06/2015) tell the story by themselves.  One can only gaze at the possibilities and potential of the game and with the fact that it is planned for a full release in June 2016 and with the blood already pumping and the adrenaline high we can only be hopeful that it will fulfill that potential and we will have the game we longed for since we watched Jurassic Park for the first time.

8.5/10