March TV

April 4, 2016 at 15:34 (Misc)

  • Vinyl
  • Parks and Recreation S4/5
  • War and Peace
  • The Night Manager
  • Master Of None
  • Cuckoo
  • Agent Carter
  • Happy Valley
  • Gotham
  • Cradle To Grave
  • Walking Dead
  • Trapped
  • The X Files: The Essential Collection
  • The Good Wife
  • Marvel Agents Of SHIELD
  • Stag
  • Inside Amy Schumer S3
  • The Goldbergs S3
  • Making A Murderer
  • The People V OJ Simpson
  • The Muppets

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Everybodys Gone To The Rapture

April 3, 2016 at 12:26 (Games, PS4)

Everybodys-gone-to-the-rapture-logo

One of the reasons I eventually decided to get a PS4 was because it appeared to be the platform for more interesting ‘smaller’ games. To be honest I expected that Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture would be something I would admire rather than like which is how I felt about Dear Esther, but this turned out to be such a wonderful experience.

It was the beautiful screenshots of a deserted English village that initially drew me and they didn’t disapoint. Nearly everything looks so real that it’s slightly jarring when a road sign font or number plate isn’t quite right but I think I mean that as a compliment. Perhaps because it’s depicting a world I already know it felt so real to me. I didn’t realise the game had started because I was too busy looking at the view.

Calling this a game is where people start to have issues but I don’t really want to explore that; if it’s not a game then what is it? Part of me thinks it would have been nice to maybe have some sort of collectables but a bigger part of me thinks that it would be a distraction. Perhaps upon getting to the end of the story a new mode could have been unlocked with some more gamified elements. The trophies already to this to some extent but they are nearly impossible to discover by accident and even when you know about them the minutes required to wait is excessively long. This is the third game in a row after Life Is Strange and The Last Of Us where I wish there was a reward for sitting on a bench and taking everything in.

I ended up adoring this experience which more than once had a transcendent quality like nothing else (although looking up the definition perhaps that isn’t quite the right word). Perhaps it was obvious that this would appeal to me so much (I am the guy who thinks every game would be better if it didn’t have guns).  I was too swept along with the experience to notice if there were problems with the story, I suspect the sci-fi elements could be a considered hokum but it didn’t bother me. I also still don’t know how much of the story I saw or understood but the fact that it made enough sense even though it was told in such a fragmented and out of order only makes me admire the writing even more.

There are issues, the biggest being how stuck I was in the first hour having somehow failed to understand the motion controlled tuning of the lights and then not knowing what to do. Smaller gaming issues like trying to open every locked door feel out of place especially earlier on when it looks like all ajar doors could be opened and all closed ones couldn’t – this is one thing that could ruin the experience for non-gamers. The biggest problem I had is one that seems far too common to all games and that’s a delimitation between chapters. The end of each chapter are the highlights of the game, these are the moments when the game looks and sounds the best and combine into those transcendental experiences but they also lead directly into the next chapter without an opportunity to save. Perhaps this is to encourage you to carry on but I need and want points where I know I can take a break and continue later without breaking the flow.

A final word about the music, this is perhaps the real emotional drive behind the entire experience, it will be interesting to see how it plays away from the game (I bought the soundtrack immediately after I finished playing) if nothing else I suspect it will just bring back memories.

 

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The Last Of Us Remastered (PS4)

March 25, 2016 at 11:13 (Games, PS4)

I keep meaning to write about the games I play but never have the time or end up forgetting. I still don’t have the time but wanted to say something about The Last Of Us.

The-Last-of-Us-Remastered

The most annoying thing about The Last Of Us is that it is one of the most accomplished games ever made and yet it’s so terrible in places. I still think there’s a huge issue around games and their logic which only makes sense to people who play games. TLOU is full of video games tropes and cliches and for a change it’s the strong characters and story that lift it up. However there are several places where the writing makes no sense, such as the end of the dam sequence – it eventually drives the story forward but neither Ellie or Joel act like I expect their characters to behave. Fortunately these setbacks are usually redeemed by something much better, such as the wonderful moment in the bus station after the illogic of the characters reacting to play time rather than the story time (we’ve just experienced the previous section but was it not days, weeks or months ago for the characters?). Throughout the game I felt these ups and downs and for me it ended on a downer. It wasn’t the actual ending which many other people seemed to have issues with, this mostly worked for me although if I had a choice I think I’d have taken the alternative (although oddly I went the other way in Life Is Strange which is essentially the same decision). My disappointment was the hospital level and I later realised it was a bigger issue with the entire portrayal of the Fireflies. I was never sure who the Fireflies were or what they stood for, were they good or bad or was that the whole point? In that hospital level TLOU became a different game and I whilst I enjoyed the mechanics and literal execution it felt like a betrayal of the story. It’s a larger problems with games in general, having a character led story constantly interrupted by a spot of mass murder with no emotional impact at all. It turns out I was fine slaughtering infected, crazy people and even the military but it didn’t feel right to casually kill people like us, people like Joel and Ellie. In the Winter section of the game it sounds like this may get addressed but that interesting concept is quickly squandered by making everybody crazy and setting up some more video game sequences.

After finishing the main game I played the DLC, Left Behind, and thought this got everything right (although one moment questionably felt like it might have been put there just to shock). It also climaxes with lots of killing but somehow this feels different, is it because they started the fighting and are presented as savages or is it just because Ellie is trying to help Joel and there’s no other option. It’s still a video game moment but it’s the emotional side of all the flashbacks that I remember more. In these flashbacks it’s more about the story telling although the game mechanics are still used in an effective way.

Where does that leave us? It’s still a great game, easily up there with the likes of Resident Evil 4 as my all time favourites but is it too much to ask that killing humans should always be the last resort and not the default option. I’m planning on playing Everyone’s Gone To The Rapture and Firewatch next, hopefully these will offer a more enlightened portrayal of humanity.

 

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February TV

March 5, 2016 at 14:08 (TV) ()

Might just stick to lists this year

  • Parks and Recreation S4
  • Siblings
  • Tripped
  • X Files Essential Collection
  • Jericho
  • Film 2016
  • War and Peace
  • Master Of None
  • Agent Carter
  • Happy Valley
  • Trapped
  • Deutschland 83
  • Agents of SHIELD
  • Cradle To Grave

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Run Lola Run with The Bays

February 21, 2016 at 19:30 (Film, Music)

Ilkley Film Festival, King’s Hall

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Guy Valarino

February 17, 2016 at 14:30 (Gigs, Music)

Coffee House Sessions – Bradford Students’ Union

20160217_143813

Wouldn’t sound out of place on the Life Is Strange soundtrack which is high compliment from me at the moment.

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January TV

February 7, 2016 at 22:10 (TV) ()

No time for words so here’s a list:

  • Inside Amy Schumer  (S2)
  • Parks and Recreation (S4)
  • The X Files (S1)
  • Tripped
  • American Dad (S10)
  • Family Guy (S10)
  • Gotham (S2)
  • The Comic Strip Presents: Red Top
  • Only Connect
  • The Kennedys
  • Agents Of Shield
  • Brooklyn Nine Nine
  • QI (S13)
  • Beowulf
  • Stargazing Live

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John Grant

February 5, 2016 at 20:00 (Gigs, Music)

Leeds Town Hall

John Grant

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Music 2015

January 30, 2016 at 19:11 (Music) ()

I didn’t realise that my last.fm history was visible to everybody but here it is if you want more details about what I was listening to in 2015.

Looking at the albums I scrobbled throughout the year (apart from September and October when it wasn’t working), I’ve removed the podcasts and also quite a few anomalies which I know aren’t accurate.

Here’s my top 30:

  1. Disasterpeace — It Follows 220
  2. CHVRCHES — The Bones Of What You Believe (Special Edition) 215
  3. Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) — Mad Max: Fury Road – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 181
  4. Sonzeira — Brasil Bam Bam Bam (Gilles Peterson Presents Sonzeira) 178
  5. Disclosure — Settle 177
  6. John Grant & BBC Philharmonic Orchestra — John Grant and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra: Live in Concert [Disc 2] 155
  7. John Grant with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra — John Grant with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra: Live in Concert 147
  8. Slow Club — Complete Surrender 144
  9. Ash — Kablammo! 137
  10. Gregory Porter — Liquid Spirit [+video] 114
  11. Björk — Biophilia live 113
  12. Gwenno — Y Dydd Olaf 112
  13. Blur — The Magic Whip 110
  14. Tracey Thorn — Songs from ‘The Falling’ 106
  15. Caribou — Our Love 92
  16. La Roux — Trouble in Paradise 85
  17. Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit 84
  18. The Magic Numbers — Alias 80
  19. Micachu — Under The Skin 80
  20. Welsh Rock For Refugees — Reach Out 70
  21. Paloma Faith — A Perfect Contradiction (Outsiders’ Edition) 62
  22. Father John Misty — I Love You, Honeybear [Explicit] 59
  23. Wildbirds & Peacedrums — Rivers pt.2: Iris 47
  24. Wildbirds & Peacedrums — Rivers pt.1: Retina 41
  25. Ash — Kablammo! (Deluxe Edition) 33
  26. La Roux — La Roux (Bonus Track Version) 30
  27. Hooton Tennis Club — Highest Point in Cliff Town 24
  28. Mario Galaxy Orchestra — Super Mario Galaxy Official Soundtrack [English] 22
  29. Angelo Badalamenti — Twin Peaks 22
  30. Gruff Rhys — Hotel Shampoo 16

 

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TV 2015

January 30, 2016 at 18:36 (TV) ()

Once again I was hoping to write more about my year of television but considering it’s February next week I’ve given up and just produced some lists. They are numbered so I can easily see how much (too much) I’ve been watching but are in alphabetical order. I had hoped to reorder at least “The Great” list but it could take forever because they were all so great. The fact that the best list is the longest speaks volumes as to how great I thought 2015 was for television. There’s also so much I haven’t seen yet and this is not even a complete list of everything I did watch. According to Trak.TV I logged 1044 hours over the year which is 43 days and about 12% of the year.

The Great

  1. 1864
  2. Agent Carter
  3. And Then There Were None
  4. Banana
  5. Banished
  6. Better Call Saul
  7. Cucumber
  8. Daredevil
  9. Doctor Who
  10. Fargo S2
  11. Homeland
  12. House Of Cards
  13. House Of Fools
  14. Humans
  15. Inside Amy Schumer S1&2
  16. Inside Number 9
  17. Jessica Jones
  18. Last Week Tonight
  19. Lip Sync Battle
  20. London Spy
  21. Luther
  22. Mad Men
  23. Modern Life Is Goodish
  24. My Mad Fat Diary
  25. Nurse Jackie (S4)
  26. Only Connect
  27. River
  28. Screenwipe
  29. Spiral S5
  30. Taskmaster
  31. The Affair
  32. The Bridge
  33. The Goldbergs (S1&2)
  34. The Good Wife
  35. The Jinx
  36. The Legacy
  37. Transparent
  38. Weekly Wipe
  39. Wentworth S2&3
  40. Wet Hot American Summer

The Good

  1. Agents Of SHIELD S2
  2. Catastrophe
  3. Detectorists S1
  4. Episodes
  5. Gotham
  6. Film 2015
  7. Indian Summer
  8. Jane The Virgin
  9. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  10. Orange Is The New Black
  11. Peep Show
  12. Pointless
  13. Shameless (US)
  14. Supergirl
  15. TFI Friday
  16. The Big Bang Theory
  17. The Casual Vacancy
  18. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  19. The Game
  20. The Leftovers
  21. Toast Of London
  22. Togetherness
  23. True Detective
  24. Twin Peaks (S1&2)
  25. Uncle
  26. Video Game Nation
  27. W1A
  28. Wayward Pines
  29. Wolf Hall

The Okay

  1. Broadchurch (S2)
  2. Cordon
  3. Count Arthur Strong
  4. Crackanory
  5. Family Guy
  6. Hunted
  7. I Survived A Zombie Apocalypse
  8. The Kennedys
  9. Last Panthers
  10. Murder In Successful
  11. New Girl
  12. Newzoids
  13. Peter Kay’s Car Share
  14. The Americans (S3)
  15. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah
  16. The Returned
  17. The Walking Dead
  18. The Wrong Men

Gave Up On

  1. Critical
  2. Dickensian
  3. Life In Squares (ep1&2)
  4. Marry Me

Disappointments

  1. Capital
  2. Downton Abbey
  3. Empire S1
  4. Fortitude
  5. Jekyll & Hyde
  6. Nashville
  7. No Offence
  8. Not Safe For Work
  9. Orphan Black
  10. Under The Dome

Didn’t Watch (Yet)

  1. Bloodline
  2. Bohorse Jackman (S1&2)
  3. Cradle To Grave
  4. Detectorists S2
  5. Doctor Foster
  6. Empire S2
  7. Frankie & Grace
  8. From Darkness
  9. Josh
  10. Making a Murderer
  11. Mr Robot
  12. The Muppets
  13. Narcos
  14. Odyssey
  15. Sense 8
  16. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  17. Unforgotten

 

 

 

 

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