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Friday, 28 December 2012

Me and Merlin


For those of you who follow my twitter, it will come as no surprise to you that I have mixed feelings about Merlin, particularly with Series 4 and 5. Now that the series has finished for good, I feel like I can take a proper look back at some of the things which could have been improved upon. I'm in no way a showrunner, but even I can see some of the areas where Merlin went wrong.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Mercy (Yeah, Yeah)

"Today, I honour the victims first. His, the Master's, the Daleks', all the people who died because of MY mercy!"

After taking a break from reviewing after Dinosaurs on a Spaceship gave me an aneurysm, I'm back! Yay. Oh, and what an episode to return with. A Town Called Mercy is easily the best of the series so far, and makes up for the disappointment that was Asylum of the Daleks and the unreservedly bad Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. I had high expectations from this episode, given that the writer (Toby Whithouse) has consistently delivered good stories, including last years The God Complex and Series 5's The Vampires of Venice. Unlike pretty much every other time I get my hopes up, I wasn't disappointed by A Town Called Mercy. While not perfect, it was still a breath of fresh air after a disappointing start to series 7.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Saving the Daleks

"Rescue me chin boy and show me the stars!"

When I first watched it last night, I came away from Asylum of the Daleks not thinking it was bad, merely disappointing. The pacing was all over the place, everything about the plot felt far too convenient, and the episode was just trying to do too much in not enough time. After watching it a second time, I still think the story has it's problems, but I've come to really, really like it.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Coded: Meh.


I never bothered with Coded.

The plot just looked like another rehash of the first game, and after my experience with the last one of those, I became very disinterested. I was willing to overlook that when I found out that Coded would be using a modified version of the battle system from Birth By Sleep, but I didn't feel the DS would be able to handle it, given it doesn't have both a d-pad and a stick. As I realized that absolutely nothing from this game would be new, I decided to just skip it and read a plot summary to get the sliver of remotely important information at the end.

358/2 Days: I forgot...

Yeah, I kinda forgot to cover this game; which is a little Ironic given one of its major plot points. I remember very little about this game, so this isn't going to be a very long review...

This game mostly takes place after Kingdom Hearts, and revolves around Roxas and his time with Organization XIII before the events of the second game. Without spoiling too much, Roxas goes on missions set by Saix pretty much every morning, eats ice cream on top of a clock tower, then heads back to the castle. That's... most of the game unfortunately. 

Monday, 30 July 2012

Dream Drop Distance: In Your Dreams...


I've finished Dream Drop Distance now, and my opinion of it has changed from "massive disappointment following Birth by Sleep" to "A great game, but still flawed." Expect some repetition from my impressions post, as I wasn't completely wrong. I'll try not to make the impressions post completely redundant with this though!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Kingdom Hearts 3D Impressions


As a few of you probably already know, my copy of Kingdom Hearts 3D arrived a couple of days early. While I'm still nowhere near finishing the game, I'm far enough that I can make a few comments about what I think of it...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Birth By Sleep: Show Me Anguish!

Oh, I've been looking forward to this one. By the time Birth By Sleep came out, I had learned how to use the internet, and I had contributed a significant number of views towards all of the trailers on Youtube. I was finding anything to fill my need for Kingdom Hearts for about two weeks before the game actually came out because I was so excited to play it. I had a preorder placed for the game from a site with a tendency to deliver a little early than they should, and they did! Unlike most games I have very high expectations of, Birth By Sleep lived up to almost every one of them. It's my favourite game in the series so far, and easily one of my favourite games of all time. Without further stalling, let's look at Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Kingdom Hearts 2: Sanctuary

 
 Following my experience with Chain of Memories, I was very excited to hear that the next Kingdom Hearts game would be on the PS2 again and the card system was only temporary! Like the first game, I got Kingdom Hearts 2 for Christmas. This time I was actively asking for it though. I must have been 10 or 11 when it came out, and by that time I had decided I actually loved Disney films, with Mulan and Hercules being my favorite. When I was playing through the game for the first time, I thought everything about it was an improvement over the first game; it was faster, more intense and generally easier to follow. I still think it's better than the first game, but when I played through for my... 3rd, 4th or maybe 5th time in preparation for this retrospective, I started noticing the flaws that I may have once overlooked.


I've become used to talking about the plot first in my reviews because it's something I don't really enjoy talking about and I want to get it out of the way. This time, however, it was just the first thing I noticed in my play through. In a nutshell, you start out as some kid called Roxas in the longest prologue ever. Seriously, it's at least 2 hours before you really get to do anything interesting, and even longer before you start controlling Sora and the real plot begins. In addition to the Heartless, you start to learn about the threat of the Nobodies, which are sometimes created when a person with a strong heart becomes a heartless. Those of you familiar with the plot in Hollow Bastion in the first game might know where that plot is headed. The Nobodies are led by a group of Organization XIII, who want Sora for reasons not adequately explained for a very long time.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Chain of Memories: If only I could forget...


If you were expecting me to give this piece of crap the same level of praise the rest of the series has gotten, prepared to be surprised. I do not like this game. As a game, I'd compare it to eating tinned dog food: It does the job, but it doesn't taste very nice. Even when you're finished it leaves a bitter after-taste.

For the purposes of the review, I will be looking exclusively at the Gameboy Advance version. Chain of Memories was remade for the PS2, complete with proper 3D gameplay and some voice work, mostly in the Castle Oblivion scenes. Unfortunately, this remake wasn't released in Europe for some reason, so the only experience I have with it are on Youtube. To it's credit, it doesn't look as terrible...

The story picks up from the end of Kingdom Hearts. Sora stumbles on this really weird castle and, upon entering, loses all of his abilities. How unfortunate. He is confronted by a man in an ominous black coat, who gives Sora some cards which lead him through recreations of worlds he visited in  the first game, starting with Traverse Town. As he explores the castle, Sora's memories are gradually screwed over by a group only referred to as The Organisation to include some girl called Namine, among other things. There's also a replica of Riku created by a member of the Organisation running around the castle.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Kingdom Hearts: Open Your Heart


On Christmas Day 2002, my lovely sister came bearing gifts. No prizes for guessing what it was. When I unwrapped Kingdom Hearts and I wasn't entirely sure what to make of it. The Disney thing put me off a little, because I never really appreciated kids films when I was young to the extent that I do when I'm grown up for some reason. Oh how wrong my hasty judgement was. It was that night, during EastEnders, that my relationship with the series began...

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Matt takes on Kingdom Hearts!


2012 marks the 10th anniversary of one of my favourite video game series, Kingdom Hearts. 2012 has been a a busy year: The Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, I finished high school, London will host the Olympics in a few weeks, and the ghastly Twilight Saga will finally come to a close. But none of these come even close in magnitude to Kingdom Hearts. Its revolutionary and exciting gameplay - in addition to it's deep plots and colourful cast of characters and worlds - has made it a staple part of my gaming diet since the first game came out in November 2002.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

So Matt thinks he can debate now...

The other day I came across a thread on Personality Cafe asking for tips on how to debate. I wouldn't say I am particularly good at organising an argument, but at the very least I thought I could help with how someone should argue, even if I wouldn't consider myself particularly adept at it. I wrote quite a lot and I had the intention of leaving it there; but last night someone asked me how I got so good at arguing. Aside from being a fat boost to my ego, I thought this would be a nice chance for a blog post; so I just copied and pasted my reply. I did add a little here and there, though.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Empty Appeals to Emptier Traditions

The appeal to tradition is probably one of my favourite fallacies in debating, mostly because of how completely ridiculous it is. It's one of those arguments which should be absurd regardless of what side of the debate you're on, but people still insist on using it. I don't intend to change much with what is really quite a narrow base of readers, but I still feel a need to expose idiocy where I can. 

Anyway, the argument usually comes in forms like this:
"Things have always been like this, so that's how it should be." Basically, if you do something for long enough it becomes acceptable. If you're the type which isn't inclined to thinking, then this argument might be something slightly convincing, but anyone else is unlikely to be fooled.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

My thoughts on Dark Souls


Dark Souls infuriating and sadistic level of difficulty brings me dangerously close to self harm. I enjoy a challenge and I love to push myself. But Dark Souls presents an unfair one, where the concept of everything being out to kill you is taken to a ridiculous and obscenely powerful degree. After being killed in one hit far too many times by regular enemies and being forced to waste such a massive amount of time going through areas I've already been through, I came to the conclusion that this game is simply not worth playing.

EDIT: I lied. I have returned to Dark Souls and have now beaten it. As I got further into the game, it actually became a lot easier and a lot more fun - particularly on my second run when I decided to play as a Sorcerer. With that said, I stand by most of my comments in this post, but I'll admit it mostly applies to the first half of a New Game. There will be a few amendments in bold throughout the post.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Why I'm disagreeing with Richard Dawkins

I rather like Richard Dawkins; I think he's a brilliant man who usually presents very clear and comprehensive arguments when dealing with Religion. He's also... you know, an excellent biologist, but that's by the by. Anyway, about two weeks ago, Dawkins wrote an article for the Guardian explaining why he believes that children should read The Bible. Before the religious among you start celebrating that a well-known and respected Atheist has seen the light, he has motives which are not what you might expect. 

He has not converted to Christianity and he certainly isn't out to indoctrinate young children. Indeed, he believes that by getting children to read the Bible, the exact opposite will be achieved, and we will have even fewer Christians to deal with. I agree with him that the King James Bible should be knocking about somewhere in every schools library and I agree with his reasons, but something tells me that his diabolical plan isn't going to work.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Sonic 4-Never


Sonic 4: Episode I was released as a downloadable game for the three main consoles and various mobile devices in late 2010 to... mixed reviews. Much of the criticism came from the game claiming to be a sequel to the classic trilogy, despite having completely different physics which ignored basic ideas of momentum, inertia and gravity. It also drew criticism for being more of a love letter (read: Rip-Off) to the classic games rather than a continuation, as none of the levels or bosses were not heavily inspired or just copypasted from the classic games. While this wouldn't be a problem in Sonic Generations, which is supposed to be a tribute, Sonic 4 raised lots of hopes for a sequel and failed to deliver. Episode II, released earlier this week, sought to address issues fans had with the first episode. While they did address some of the issues, I still think they have failed to deliver a good game.

First off, don't expect much from the story. Despite being the game which links Sonic CD and Episode I into the series' continuity, this game doesn't really do that. It links all three (and possibly Episode III) into a little mini-saga revolving around the Little Planet, Metal Sonic and the revival of... something bad. The few cutscenes in the game remind me of the ones from Sonic 3 in their simplicity, and I enjoyed them for the most part. Don't tell me you were playing a Sonic game for the plot, though! You've come for the super fun, physics and momentum based platforming! Well...

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

So I got bored in the RE Exam...

Like many people, I took the WJEC Religious Studies paper earlier this ‎afternoon. I thought I did rather well. The test was a lot easier than I expected, and I played the marking game on most of the questions... Except for the one on Same-Sex Marriage, which pissed me off a little. 

I thought the exam itself was really boring. Every section has exactly the same questions, and most of the questions themselves I have seen many times before. Wouldn't surprise me if the entire exam had not been completely recycled. Outside of that, however, was a much larger issue I had with the Exam and (more specifically) the syllabus itself. I had around 15-20 minutes to spare after I had finished, so I turned to the first page and I wrote this:

"I just wanted to mention that I completely disapprove with this syllabus's glaring bias in favour of answers based on the monotheistic religions and the idea of God as described by the three Abrahamic religions. 

Religious Studies is - unsurprisingly - supposed to educate people about religion, not just the positive aspects of Christianity and Islam. As an exam board, you have failed to effectively assess students regarding their knowledge of religion. Go ahead and dock marks for this if you want; any grade from such a shoddy board means absolutely nothing to me."

Yeah.

Friday, 4 May 2012

God's gonna turn you gay

I was going to post a blog about misinterpretation of scripture tonight, but while doing a bit of research I came across this really interesting verse from The Bible:

"Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."
- Romans 1:26-27

Monday, 23 April 2012

What the hell is an Atheist?

Yeah, you read that right.

No, this isn't some kind of deep analysis on what it means to be an Atheist - although that is something I want to get into when I get around to the Burden of Proof. This really is just telling people what an Atheist is because I'm actually rather surprised at the number of people who just don't seem to understand this.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Mass Effect 3 - (Don't Fear) the Reapers


I was never a big fan of the Mass Effect series. I played the first one not long after it came out and I didn't really like it. In my defence I was around 10, and I was simply awful at shooters... I'm still not great at them, but that is by the by. However, a week or two before Mass Effect 3 came out, my brother persuaded me to give Mass Effect 2 a go, and I completed it last week. I came out of the game thinking it was one of the best I had ever played, and I moved straight on to Mass Effect 3. While not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, I have found elements of it disappointing following the expectations established by the second game. 

Following the more intimate flavour of Mass Effect 2, this game bounces straight back into epic sci-fi territory as Commander Shepard unites the galaxy against the Reaper invasion. Characters and decisions from the previous games come into play as conflicts erupt between the species of the galaxy. Naturally, it all falls down to Shepard to resolve these problems, as everyone else is ultimately useless.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Ice Cream, Gay Marriage and Catholics

After the last one, this post was always going to come as a disappointment, so I've taken the opportunity to talk about something which is really quite simple.

In a very tasty and unusual move, Ben & Jerry's have recently renamed one of their ice creams in support of equal marriage rights for gay people. This is happening at the same time the Government is discussing plans to change the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples... or something like that.

As can be expected, mere consultations on marriage laws has sparked outrage from, among other groups, my old friends the Catholic Church. It's been described as "grotesque" and that it would "Shame the kingdom."

The Church really has no place in this argument. They suggest that changes in the legislation goes against Christian teachings. Well here's the inside scoop: Not everyone is Christian. Marriage has changed already to become a secular practice, not everyone who gets married is a Christian or even religious. 

The only change happening here is to legislation to ensure everyone has equal rights. There's nothing stopping anyone from having a "Christian" wedding, with all the sacred vows maintained. No one is forcing anyone in the Church to sideline their beliefs to give gay couples a religious ceremony, but if you're trying to restrict the rights of a group of people with no justification other than "That's how it has always been", then who gives a damn what you think.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Being Bisexual

Since I started to realise I was Bisexual nearly two years ago, I've been confronted with a number of interesting questions about who I am, and more generally what it means to be Bisexual. These are fine, if people are interested in different lifestyles, particularly in environments as judgemental as a high school, more power to them. However, I've also come across some rather bizarre assumptions about who I am and what I do.

I try not to place my sexuality at the forefront of my personality, but I feel forced to make a post addressing some of the more common and more outlandish ideas about what being Bisexual actually means; because if there's one thing I hate more than a bigot, it's an incompetent one.

1 - Erm... Do you like me?
An almost exclusively male reaction to finding out I'm Bi is the assumption that I must be attracted to them. It's quite an admirable self-confidence that these people display, as if everyone interested in the male sex must be interested in them. The question itself  is usually posed in a scared tone, as if I were some kind of sexual predator, or an excited one, as if the answer they're looking for is "Oh yes, I'd very much like to mount you right now."

Of course, the answer is probably no. I don't like all guys in the same way I - or indeed the person asking - doesn't like all girls. It's about as simple as that.  Being Bisexual does not mean I don't have a type or any kind of standards.

I have felt attraction to one or two of the people who have asked me this, and naturally I said no to preserve the peace in their insane minds, but that's neither here nor there to be honest.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Toriyama'd

For those of you who have reached this post by searching "Toriyama'd" to find out what it actually means, it refers to how you should expect games directed by him to troll you incessantly and make absolutely no sense. Been screwed over by XII-2? You just got Toriyama'd my friend.

I didn't include this in my review for spoiler reasons, but I really need to vent about the ending to Final Fantasy XIII-2. Probably the worst ending in the entire series, and a desperate grab for a sequel, be it XIII-3 or a DLC. This post contains major spoiler, and by major spoilers, I mean I'll basically be describing exactly what happens. Read at your own risk, and all that jazz.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Final Fantasy XIII-2: For the love of Etro!


I loved Final Fantasy XIII. It's one of my favourite games in the series, and I was looking forward to this game a great deal, so imagine my joy when I got it two days before it officially was released! Whoo! Anyway, I have a lot to say about this game, so grab the popcorn... or not, because my general opinion breaks down to "Great, but not as fantastic as it should have been."

I'll start with the plot, why not. Basically, Lightning has gone missing, and Serah is the only person who seems to remember her. One night in New Bodhum, Noel Kreiss (which is pronounced curiously similar to Noel Christ) falls from the sky, and he and Serah go on a journey through time to find Lightning while solving mysterious time paradoxes. Meanwhile, they are pursued by Caius Ballad, who see's them as contradictions, which means they must be eliminated.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Let's Kill The Doctor

There was no way of making Amy look threatening here short of replacing
 her head with a Garbodor...
The other day, I re-watched Lets Kill Hitler. I know.


Anyway, I can't have been the only person who thought the title was a bit of a cop-out by the end of the episode? Hitler was just sort of shoved in the cupboard around 15 minutes into the episode then comically forgot about. It almost seemed like the "Big, slutty title" - as Moffat describes it - was purely an attention grabbing gimmick... and it was. However, it does have rather more meaning than it first appears.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Super Mario 3D - PANNED!

Where are all the views for this post coming from? Please, let me know!


I meant to review this a long time ago, but I didn't have a 3DS... or this game. I still don't have a 3DS but - for some reason - somebody I know does. He bought 3D land around Christmas and, being the top guy he is, let me borrow it for a bit to write this review. In all honesty, I don't understand the near-universal acclaim it's been getting.

I was playing Galaxy 2 earlier, and it's probably one of the best games I've ever played. Each and every level was interesting, different, and fun to play... with the exception of one or two killer missions anyway. Super Mario 3D Land, however, is easily the most uninspired, uncreative Mario game and probably one of the most unoriginal games I've ever played.