VuePoint: Coming Soon in 2017

Well, 2017 has been pretty great for us gamers so far right!? Resident Evil 7 and Nioh have already blown a significant hole in my budget. Horizon: Zero Dawn is just around the corner, with its own price tag looming – thank god I don’t have to pay until release! Isn’t pre-ordering great!? Because despite having limited funds and plenty of more important things on my shopping list, I can’t help myself when that shiny “One Click Buy” button glints.

With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at some of the great stuff we have coming over the course of the next year. I hear many people saying that this article would have been better at the start of the year, and to that I say…well…good point.

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Morning BS: Horizon: Zero Dawn First Impressions

This may surprise you but alongside my love of comic books your humble Sleuth is also a huge gaming geek. I’ve always wanted to write more on my love of gaming but with VuePoint on the site it’s never felt quite right. But today I’ve beat ol’ VuePoint to the punch. So before he peels his eyes away from his PlayStation 4 and puts his gaming skills to work on my innards…These are my first impressions of Horizon: Zero Dawn.

Warning: Light spoilers for the first three hours of gameplay

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I only managed to get about three hours in last night but I’ve already got a few points I need to raise about Horizon: Zero Dawn (a title that is seemingly insightful but pretty much meaningless).

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VuePoint: NIOH

Let me just get one thing out of the way. I love the Souls games, and I also love the Souls-like games. I have got the 100% Platinum trophy for all three Dark Souls games, as well as Bloodborne and Demon’s Souls. I am working on the platinum trophy for Lords of The Fallen, which I don’t enjoy as much, but still love. Salt and Sanctuary is up there with my favourite indie games of all time. I have a certain degree of experience with the unforgiving nature and cruel difficulty of Souls and Souls-like games. That being said…

…NIOH KICKED MY ASS.

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NIOH takes the tried and true formula of the Soulsborne (hereby referred to simply as SB) mechanics—managing stamina to block, dodge and attack, controlling enemy numbers, levelling up individual stat points, and losing everything if you die— and applies them to a Japanese Samurai setting. This is all super cool, and although it has its own sense of style, its own unique little design elements, and just generally its own distinctive flavour, at its core it’s still a Souls-like RPG.

It isn’t out yet, but I recently spent a whole week totally bashing the final beta test for the game, so I have a lot to talk about. Hopefully I can help you decide whether it’s worth spending your hard-earned cash on, come release day next week (the 8th of February to be exact). The strange thing about this game is that if you hated the SB games, you’ll probably not enjoy this one either as it shares similar turnoffs to that series—mainly the difficulty. However, if you did enjoy the SB games, this one might also NOT be for you.

This makes it sound like an objectively all around bad game, which it isn’t, not by a long shot. On the contrary, NIOH is actually really fun to play. It’s a tough one to explain. Whilst it shares its punishing difficulty with the SB games and this may turn some people away, this isn’t an objectively bad feature. Personally, I enjoy the level of challenge the games present, and don’t see it as being “hard” per se.

To me a game is hard if I am unable to progress due to the enemies being too powerful or the puzzles being too obtuse with no clear way of figuring out the answer. SB, and now NIOH, present you with obstacles that are perfectly manageable, so long as you tackle it in the correct way. True difficulty—the unpleasant kind—comes in the form of an objective that is designed to destroy you regardless of your angle of attack, where success comes in the form of a lucky hit, or a fluke.

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SB and NIOH’s difficulty gives you a situation and expects you to learn how to deal with it. Death is part of the process, and as time goes on, you learn enemy positions movements and tactics. Most importantly, you learn their strengths and weaknesses. After some frustration, your fingers are dancing across the control pad as you storm through the area like an unstoppable maelstrom of death.

Combat encounters become puzzles, as surviving becomes just as much about figuring out what an enemy is going to do as it is about skilful dodging and timing your strikes. There is a degree of skill involved—quite a large degree in fact—but as your character levels up and progresses, your skill level increases, making no obstacle insurmountable. Anyway, that’s a generalisation for SB and NIOH. Let’s focus more on what’s in store for the upcoming title.

In terms of the RPG elements, NIOH functions in much the same way as SB. You can equip different weapons, armour, and other such goodies (including spirit animals), and levelling up involves increasing the value of certain stat points. You can also unlock and upgrade new skills—a new feature not seen in SB—and get another level of customisation over your character. Furthermore, each weapon you use increases in level the more you use it. You gain a skill point with each weapon level, which you can use anywhere you want, not just with that weapon. This directly rewards your play style, but also encourages experimenting with other weapons. The lower a weapon’s level, the faster it levels up. Using a low-level weapon that you never use could not only open a new play style for you, but it could also be a quick way to earn some extra skill points if you’re in need.

The combat is fast and furious—at least, it is in two of the three stances available to you. You have two weapon slots, each weapon has three stances: high, medium, and low (basically fast, slow, and balanced), and each stance has a quick and a heavy attack. At first this all seems intimidating, but it honestly isn’t much more complex than the SB combat. A few hours of practice (which, let’s be honest, is a fraction of the time you spend playing these games) and you’ll be switching through stances and weapons in the middle of combat, and sometimes even mid-combo!

Even in medium stance, combat is faster than the SB games. I got the impression that the main focus in combat should be moving around and dodging, rather than tanking and blocking. Other people may have gotten a different first impression. This is still just the beta so there wasn’t a huge amount to go off, but to me speed seems far more important here.

This is where my comments about the combat from earlier come in. It feels very different from the SB games, but also the same. It took a little adjustment (and a lot of death). One welcome addition is the ability to see an enemy’s stamina bar. Each enemy has a stamina bar below their health, which allows you to see when they’re getting tired and plan accordingly. Dancing around an enemy as he wore himself out, only to perform a quick action to regain my stamina and unleash a tidal wave of pain on his defenceless, panting form was remarkably satisfying. 16558967_10209228658807606_1750874732_n

I haven’t even mentioned that manoeuvre, have I? There’s a whole bunch of neat little features that I haven’t touched on. Stamina regeneration, spirit animals, multiplayer, they’re all things that I got a mere taste of in the demo. I could go on for pages, but instead I’ll begin to wrap up. You’re reading this, wanting to know if you should spend your money on NIOH. Here’s my verdict: If you didn’t like the SB games, try and find a demo of this, it’s at least worth a try. If you DID enjoy the SB games, I would recommend a rental if one is available. Or borrow it from a friend. There won’t be enough in a demo to give you a full understanding of the features it brings to the table. Before you pay full price and dive in headlong, consider the risks. This game has some heavy influences from SB, but is also very different, so be sure you know what you’re getting into.

Personally, I will be buying this…if I can justify spending another £50 as I’ve just bought Resident Evil 7. My bank account hates me right now, but I have the willpower of someone stumbling into a KFC at 2am, regardless of their Weight Watchers meeting the following morning. And on that note, I say good luck in the world of demonic fantasy Samurai battles. Enjoy your time with the game, but make sure you know what you’re spending your money on. Until next time, peace out and keep gaming!

Written by: Jack Sutton

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VuePoint: Play Expo Manchester

Well I haven’t written anything for a while have I? Sorry about that, I have a pretty busy schedule, some things slip through the cracks, but fear not! I’m back now with an article that I’ve been trying to find the time to write for weeks now. A few weeks ago (on the 9th of September to be exact), me and some others from BearSleuth went on a little adventure to PlayExpo at Event City, and after walking into the wrong building and finding myself in the middle of a baby and toddler fair, full of people looking at me with confused looks (probably due to my camera gear and geeked-out attire), I eventually made it to the right place.

And what a wondrous place it was.

I’ve only been to a few of these types of conventions, but each time the atmosphere has been electric. Everyone is perfectly friendly, you can become best friends with a stranger thanks to a mutual love of an obscure title, and nobody bats an eye at you wielding a camera! I tried vlogging in my home town once and feared about someone running past me grabbing my camera and taking off with it, but enough about where I’m from, I was in Fandom Central and I was loving it.

One of my favourite things about these events is how people can express themselves and their love for gaming, film and generally anything they want. Given that she’s 20 years old this year, there were understandably a high number of Lara Croft cosplays, but everyone had their own spin on it, which was cool. Hell, I even came across a whole family of Lara’s. mother, daughter, and yes, even the father had donned the tight blue top and hot pants for their family day out!

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Feeling like I had to get into the spirit of things, I picked up an – admittedly overpriced (the only true criticism of these events) – Deadpool mask, and went around asking people to be my sidekick – another stunt that’s acceptable in this environment, but not anywhere else.

Of course, even if you’re a social hermit who hates interaction with other people, there’s plenty to see and do here. Rows upon rows of retro arcade games, every console from Sega Genesis to the PS4 is set up somewhere and even a gaming console where fruit is the controller. I’m not kidding. I made a video over on my YouTube channel, so if you’re interested in actually seeing some of this stuff, there’ll be a link at the bottom for you to go check it out!

Unfortunately there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of brand new content to check out. A few indie puzzle and platform games were set up, and something called the “Battle Zone” invited players to try out the new PS4 VR in head to head matches with other people. This sounded super fun, so we jumped into the queue as soon as we saw it. Alas, due to the estimated waiting time and the fact that we didn’t have as much time as we might have liked, we had to pass on trying it out. Next time Battle Zone…next time.

But all was not lost! I did indeed get to experience an – admittedly basic – version of Virtual Reality, in the form of a polygonal tank/robot/mech/shooty game thing (I’ll have you know that was the exact title of the game as penned by the developers). It was pretty cool to actually try VR for the first time, but I do hope that the PS4 version will be better. The game was very simplistic, the controls pretty stiff and the headset itself weighed pretty heavily on my head, resting uncomfortably on my face.

I might be overestimating what VR can do, but in my opinion, the whole point of it is to make you feel like you’re inside the game. The headset should sit comfortably enough that you forget it’s there when you’re playing. If you feel this massive bulky thing crushing your face, you’re going to be fully aware that there’s a massive bulky thing crushing your face, and it’s going to take you out of the experience. Hopefully the PS4 version will be more comfortable to wear – it definitely looks it.

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Let’s keep this article short, as I soon have to return to my busy life and the soul crushing responsibilities that come with it. Just a quick note – I recently got Rise of the Tomb Raider on PS4, so check back here next week for  a full review – DLC and all!

Check out my video of the event below if you wanna see more from the day – including a few snippets from the cosplay competition –  and until next time, keep gaming my friends!

That was this week’s VuePoint!!! Check back soon for a new BearSleuth article!!!

The BearSleuth Week Geek Out – LaMarr And Snyder And Bears…Oh My!

This week I am determined to get this feature up at a reasonable time! Last week was just a trial run but this is absolute prime time professionalism in article form. Unfortunately, to my knowledge their is very little to talk about in the world of television so I’m going to jump across and examine what’s going on over at YouTube. Apart from that all I have to say is that it’s been a damn good week and I hope all you back-to-schoolers are settling in well.

The Week In Comics


 

This week is looking pretty strong in the world of comics, the shelves are pretty densely packed and their is certainly a lot of talent to be found. An underground hit of the week has to be Scarlet Witch #10 which is pretty much a perfect self contained story for the character looking at her role in the magical community. Over with the Team Aqua that is DC we have some awesome titles including All-Star Batman #2 and Suicide Squad #2 showcasing talent from two of the greatest creators in the comic book industry, Snyder and Lee.

Marvel’s Team Magma are looking sound all round with some brilliant tie-in titles but my pick of the week has to go to Amazing Spider-Man Civil War II #4, which has to be one of the most complex titles I have ever written. The finale of the Amazing Spider-Man tie-in is probably going to place the series as the strongest of the Civil War II tie-ins to date as it fully succeeds in an examination of the main themes of the event. If you are only going to pick up one tie-in make it this one…then maybe squeeze your budget for the X-Men tie-in as well!

The Week In Film


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Well this week I actually went to see a film which I can talk about, Don’t Breathe. This film was pretty much schlock of the highest order with a particular scene added in just for shock value and so the film can be ‘the film that went there’. I actually think this is a horror targeted at a more female audience as the shock scene is harder to relate to from a male perspective, which probably goes a long way to spoiling it. The male characters are embarrassingly weak but the female lead, played by Jane Levy, seems to have a good amount of depth to her. The villain is essentially, old and evil Daredevil and I find that the film makes a lot more sense in that light.

Like I said up top, there’s not really much in the way of TV news from me at the moment, just finished Stranger Things which gave me a new appreciation for child actors and small-town sci-fi. Heading over to YouTube, Fatman On Batman just interviewed Phil LaMarr and you have to see it if you are in anyway a geek. My YouTube tastes are fairly vanilla but I recommend Yahtzee19,  KaptainKristian and Vuepoint’s Jack’s World if you are looking for something new.

The Week In Gaming


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Pre are in the ten week countdown for Pokemon!!! Like any good fan I’m attempting a run through of HeartGold, Pearl, Black, White 2, X and finally Omega Ruby before grabbing a copy of Sun. I’m going to be grabbing a bunch of grass starters in the way, the unloved Ringos of Pokemon starters, and basically getting myself back in that ten-year-old mind-set. Apart from that I’m continuing a play through of Dark Souls with Ollie from LoneWolfGaming and playing Until Dawn with Will, the BearSleuth camera man.

In Other News…


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The world is teetering on the brink of disaster from a take over of regional pronunciation starting with a plague of government sponsored academies and there will be more news coming on the new BearSleuth writer later this week. That’s about it for this week folks but be sure to come back next week for more sleuthing!

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Week Geek Out!!! Check back on Friday for a brand new article!!!

VuePoint: Resident Evil 4

As arguably the best game in the series, it’s hardly surprising that Resident Evil 4 has made an appearance across a whole range of consoles. From the Playstation 2, to the Wii and back again – now available to purchase for Playstation 4 in the store – there is now absolutely no excuse for anyone to have not played this action horror classic.

Now that it’s made the jump to this generation, Resi 4 looks better than ever, with enhanced textures, lighting and character models. Don’t go in to this expecting Uncharted 4, this is still a PS2 game at the end of the day, so there’s only so much that can be done without remaking the whole game from the ground up.

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This is just a remaster with a graphical upgrade, so don’t think you’re buying a new game here. If you played Resi 4 before and weren’t impressed, this won’t change your mind. This is still the same – albeit brilliant – game as it always was. What it did do however, was give me a chance to go back and play it again, and now that I’m older I get to review it. For the sake of this review, I’ll be talking about it like it’s a new game, and whilst I may compare it to its counterparts on other consoles, I’ll be reviewing it as a standalone game, rather than just talking about what has changed…mainly because nothing has. Like I just said, graphical enhancements aside, this is the same game.

Special agent Leon S. Kennedy has been sent to a creepy village to rescue the President’s daughter Ashley from an army of zombie-like cultists. It’s made clear within the first five minutes as you stand over the body of the first enemy you kill, Leon explicitly says “THESE AREN’T ZOMBIES!”. This should be your first clue that this game is unlike any Resi game before it. The over-the-shoulder camera replaces the static angles, and there’s a much heavier focus on action than before.

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This isn’t a bad thing though. Unlike the later instalments, Resi 4 isn’t a straight up action game, and it isn’t afraid to throw some scares your way. These tense moments generally build from the atmosphere across the various locations you find yourself in. Nowhere feels particularly safe, and you’ll probably find yourself frequently spinning the camera to make sure nothing is creeping up behind you. And trust me, things will creep up behind you. God knows where these guys hide, but there have been many occasions where I’ll be fending off a horde of enemies lumbering towards me, only to spot movement out of the corner of my eye and see that they’re coming from all sides.

One particular segment puts you into the shoes of Ashley herself. Separated from Leon, with no weapons and no way to defend herself, you must use the environment to your advantage, outwitting and outmanoeuvring your enemies, rather than just shooting them in the head. The fact that you can’t fight back and your enemies can come from around any corner makes this segment feel more like a survival horror than a straight up action game, and it’s segments like this that future games in the series could have benefitted from.

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Unfortunately, this experience is marred by how painfully unlikeable Ashley is. She’s an annoying, whiny brat, who likes to get herself kidnapped and stand in front of your gun, taking a bullet for her enemies. What a generous move Ashley! Oh wait! No, no it isn’t.

I will admit that her AI is somewhat competent. If you compare it to the likes of the Star Trek game a few years ago, Ashley looks like Einstein. For the most part, she will do her best to stay behind you, and crouch when you aim your gun in her general direction, but her annoying character makes her – admittedly rare – moments of stupidity that much more frustrating. Given the fact that about 70% of the game is an escort mission, this makes some part particularly aggravating. When you get to the end of the game and unlock a huge suit of armour for her to wear in NG+, these problems disappear. Aside from looking hilarious, Ashley becomes too heavy for the enemies to pick her up and carry her away, and completely invincible. Some might say that this makes the game too easy, but personally I really enjoy mowing down hordes of not-zombies, without worrying about her.

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It makes me physically upset to hate on this game for too long, so let’s get back into the good stuff, because despite the problematic companion, this is still a brilliant game. The story of Leon and Ashley escaping from the monstrous Lord Saddler and his minions is a fun one. In true Resi fashion it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and despite being a horror game full of terrifying creatures that can impale, decapitate and just generally mutilate you in a  number of different ways, it still feels light-hearted and entertaining. The cheesy dialogue is very much tongue in cheek, and is delivered well by a talented cast, who bring a diverse range of characters to life.

The cherry on top of the cake is the excellent gameplay. The over-the-shoulder camera allows for satisfying shooting, and the way enemies fly back when you hit them with a shotgun is really rewarding. Your weapons feel powerful, and the upgrades you buy feel useful. The aiming isn’t as precise as I would have liked it to be, and in the shooting department, I feel the need to utter a sentence I never thought I’d say.

The Wii version of this game is superior to the PS4.

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Don’t get me wrong, everything works fine on the PS4. Anyone who’s played Resi 5 will know what to expect, it works in much the same way. The absence of a crosshair is noticeable though. Using just a laser sight to line up shots can be tricky, especially when you have a legion of enemies rushing you and you can’t move when aiming. Even more frustrating is when an enemy pulls out a cheap one hit kill attack whilst you’re reloading. Playing it does feel a little clunky and dated, although I do have a friend who said he likes this feature, so maybe it’s just personal opinion.

The Wii version on the other hand worked great. The responsive motion controls made aiming much easier, and I was pulling off headshots within a few seconds. It may take people a while to get used to this aiming method, especially if you’ve never played a Resi game before.

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All in all, I would consider Resi 4 on the PS4 a worthwhile purchase. There’s plenty of replayability to had in upgrading all your weapons, unlocking different outfits for Leon and Ashley, and even when you’ve finished all that, it’s still a fun game to play. Give yourself a while to get accustomed to the controls if you’ve never played a Resi game before, as it will be very different than your standard 3rd person shooter. But at the end of the day, Resi 4 isn’t your standard 3rd person shooter! It cleverly blends action and horror, with interesting characters, tongue in cheek humour and some amazing creatures and bosses to create – in my opinion – the best Resident Evil game yet.

…That was this week’s VuePoint!!! Check back tomorrow for another BearSleuth Week Geek Out!!!

BearSleuth Week Geek Out

Like I said in my last post, it’s becoming a lot hard to find time for my normal Sleuthing, which is why this new feature is coming to you a little late. I wanted to make sure I gave it my full attention and due to a quick trip to A&E that became borderline impossible, I managed to tear some muscles in a fight with a bird table (don’t ask). Anyway, I have a lot to talk about so I think it’s time to stop faffing about and get stuck in!

The Week In Comics


It’s been a really good week in the world of comics. While the shelves were a little sparse, DC knocked out a few brilliant books with the new Tom King Batman Issue Six probably taking the top spot from the blue corner. Over in the red of Marvel is my top pick for the week, Jeff Lemire’s Moon Knight. This book is complex, intelligent and really shows what the modern industry techniques developed in the independent market can add to the mainstream. I also read Asterios Polyp this week and I can whole heartedly say that it is the only graphic novel to have changed my life. If you are able to get your hands on a copy you 100% should.

The Week In Film (And TV)


The run up to Doctor Strange is gripping a lot of comic book fans now with the inevitable ‘I want to get into Doctor Strange…’ posts slowly creeping onto reddit. For anyone looking for a Doctor Strange recommendation, it’s pretty hard as most of his stuff comes from the silver and bronze age of comics which can feel very dated. Check out ‘The Oath’ and maybe Jason Aaron’s new Doctor Strange series as they present the more modern take on the character.

In other news, Rogue One is struggling, to no one’s surprise (this is what happens when you put a Godzilla director on a Star Wars flick). Also a Dark Tower trailer will be airing next month so keep your peepers peeled. Turning to TV quickly, apparently the Luke Cage series looks good and the new Ghost Rider looks okay enough to get people to notice Agents Of Shield still exists.  Personally, I’ve been getting into Stranger Things and I’m going to surprise no one by saying it’s a great show, likely to become the next massive hit.

The Week In Gaming


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This week saw the world of console gaming reveal its massive throbbing erections for the PC master race as consoles take that one bold step into becoming computers. I don’t really care for 4k optimisation so I can’t say this affects me but if you are one of those graphics snobs then this…probably doesn’t matter to you because you already have a gangster rig (or whatever the cool kids are calling it). Deus Ex is gracing the shelves again, which is cool as we don’t have enough ultra-gritty cyberpunk dystopia running around. This week I’m replaying Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne because I’m a masochist when it comes to gaming.

And Finally…


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In other news, the world is teetering on the edge of destruction from the imminent threat of a mass custard pie orgy at the top of Trump tower and I am proud to announce that we are adding another writer to the BearSleuth roster. While I’m not ready to say much yet SHE is a perfect fit for the team and I’m sure HER articles are going to be a great hit!

Subtlety was always one of my strong points.

…That’s this week’s BearSleuth Week Geek Out!!! Check back on Friday for something new!!!

BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle Week Fifty

For the first time in recent memory the shelves in my local comic book store looked a little bare. With the exception of a handful of tie-ins, there is now Civil War II has ground to a halt, leaves us to wait another week for a main book. On top of that this week there are no DC Rebirth titles, well to be honest there’s a Suicide Squad mini-series but nothing of any substance. So this week we are looking at the fringes and a few highlights I’ve been wanting to cover for awhile which, for one reason or another, haven’t really shown up on my list. Trust your humble Sleuth, I’ll see you right!

All images are screenshots taken from the Marvel and DC Comics apps [Accessed:02/09/2016]

Civil War II: Choosing Sides Issue Five By A Whole Phalanx Of Artists


 

I love Justin Trudeau! I might not know that much about Canadian politics, and the little I do know has come from a close friend and John Oliver, but it is great to see the Canadian Prime Minister turning up in the pages of a Marvel comic. I can’t say there is much more in this book to write home about but Trudeau’s presence is pretty cool. His section is written by Chip Zdarsky who delivers his usual mixture of tongue-in cheek humour and heart. The book is fairly mediocre from there on out making it hard to recommend but as a piece of political-comic book history it’s a highlight of the year.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Issue Eleven By Brian Michael Bendis And Valerio Schiti


 

The Guardians have just come off a monster arc, a planetary-wide cataclysmic arc that is 100% worth your time and attention. This issue is more of the calm before the storm. A brief reprieve setting up the major players in the next epic arc. There’s a lot of interesting character interactions as well as plenty of nods and winks towards the fans. It’s an issue that build heart and character. There really isn’t much to say past that, Schiti’s art is fairly tight and the set up for the big Civil War II tie-in is nice but if you want a big action set piece this is not the one for you. If you like the Guardians grab this book.

Han Solo Issue Three By Marjorie Liu And Mark Brooks


 

When you think of Han Solo you think of the rogue with the heart of gold and this story is entirely based around this concept. Marjorie Liu has created the perfect boys own adventure storyline in space and it is no small wonder that I am completely wrapped up in it. Han gets the cool lines and the brilliant stunts while the pulse racing action hammers on in a plot that will satisfy any Star Wars fan. The art by Mark Brooks is nice and has a lot of subtle detail for an eagle eyes reader. This is a big winner all round for me and is fully worthy of your time.

Ms. Marvel Issue Ten By G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa And Alphona


 

Most of the time the high school drama of super heroics wears thin with me. I don’t like the whinny emo stuff as I’ve been there and I know how much it makes you want to gouge out your own eyes years later. However, in Ms. Marvel G. Willow Wilson has worked hard to make the high school drama mean something, for it to deeply effect the heroine and her heroics. This book is a big Civil War II tie-in and I feel that it will be known as one of the hidden gems of the event for years to come. I like this book and if you are willing to try something different this is a great choice.

Rocket Raccoon And Groot Issue Eight By Nick Kocher And Michael Walsh


 

Well Skottie Young has left the building…whether he will come back or simply leave us hanging while he pens ‘I hate Fairyland’ is unknown as of writing this but I dare say he will emerge with another great idea soon. What isn’t unknown is that Nick Kocher was the only man who could have stepped into Young’s clownish shoes. His take on the title partnership is fantastic, funny and fierce. The story is a loose Civil War II tie-in with more of the group hijinks bubbling up to the surface. If you like the Guardians and you fancy a laugh this is the place to be.

Spider-Man Issue Seven By Brian Michael Bendis And Nico Leon


 

Can something finally happen in these issues? I love Bendis’ slow approach to character development with a lot of brilliantly handled teenage drama but I’m really getting sick of Spider-Man struggling to be Spider-Man. I feel like this story is just ticking over until Bendis can move off his other nineteen projects and give it full focus. I know that next issue or the one after my thoughts will be completely different again but for now I’m a little bored of Spider-Man. If you are a fan of Bendis or Miles or Spider-Man then stay tuned but this might be one you can miss.

BearSleuth Pick Of The Week: Tokyo Ghost Issue Ten By Rick Remender And Sean Murphy


 

Tokyo Ghost is over. Perhaps one of the greatest comics of the last year and it is finished, with chances if a sequel looking middling at best. So how did it all pan out? Perfectly. I know I’m speaking with a bit of fan boy biased here but, I cannot find a flaw in this finale. It’s a brilliant end to a brilliant book and I want every one of you reading this to go pick up the first trade paperback. This is the quiet riot we need in this digitally swamped age and it’s truly beautiful. If that doesn’t sell you on it I’m not sure what will.

Uncanny Avengers Issue Thirteen By Gerry Duggan And Ryan Stegman


 

Another issue of set up as we ease into a Civil War II tie-in. I don’t have much to say about this issue as it simply runs through a few team members and show us their roles in the coming war. It’s fun and if you wanted a little more depth after the main Civil War II books then I can highly recommend it but past that this is in one ear and out the other. This is the worst sort of book to review as its so on the fence, there is nothing offensively bad or angelically good to talk about so I will leave the recommendation to you. Sleuth. Out.

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Spoiler Free a Comic Book Bundle!!! Check back later today for a new OpinionatedDavid article!!!

VuePoint: Games, Games Bond

So this week marks the 19th birthday of Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64. That game was released 19 years ago. Take a moment to let that sink in. Aside from making me feel far older than a 21 year old should, it gave me a great idea for this week’s article. 007 has had quite a number of video game outings, with varying degrees of success, so I’m going to be ranking them from worst to best.

There are three exclusions from this list, and those are: Goldeneye 007 itself, which is pretty clearly the best, and arguably one of the best FPS games of all time. Goldeneye: Reloaded (all versions) will also be excluded – its a great game but lets focus on the non-Goldeneye games. Finally, I’ll only be counting the action shooter games. Partly because I’ve never played any of the others (they were a little before my time), but mostly because side-scrollers, racing games and text based adventures wouldn’t really fit anywhere on this list.

Well, enough of that, lets get to it!

  1. 007 Legends


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To be honest, as far as video game adaptations go, 007 has done well to only have one that’s particularly bad. 007 Legends was released to celebrate the 50th anniversary, and considering it was the video game counterpart to Skyfall, it was painfully disappointing. Starting off during the train top fistfight from Skyfall’s opening, Bond is shot and falls into the watery depths below. His lack of oxygen causes him to flash back to some of his greatest adventures. Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Licence to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker serve as the settings for a series of uninteresting shooting galleries. As you move from one set piece to the next, shooting anyone that gets in your way, it feels more like Call of Duty than James Bond, but without the finesse and polish the blockbuster series has perfected by now.  Familiar faces trigger a little nostalgia, but it isn’t enough to save this game from mediocrity.

  1. Quantum of Solace


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It’s hardly surprising that one of the most forgettable Bond movies spawned a pretty forgettable tie-in videogame. As far as 3rd person shooters go, QoS is adequate, if a little clunky, but the visuals were pretty impressive for the time, and it allowed us to play through not only the story from QoS, but also featured a few flashback missions from Casino Royale. All in all, there’s nothing blatantly terrible about this game, but its not one that will stick in your mind for very long after the credits roll.

  1. Blood Stone


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2010s 007 Blood Stone suffered a similar fate. Its an incredibly difficult game to write about. Theres nothing abhorrently bad with it, it’s just sort of…there. If you have a spare afternoon and a bit of spare cash lying around, it could provide an afternoon of fun. It’s well voiced by Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Joss Stone (who also provides an outstanding theme song), and the shooter gameplay is functional. A lackluster online mode and forgettable story hold it back though.

  1. Agent Under Fire


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This is where we’re starting to move into the territory of the good games now. Agent Under Fire for the Playstation 2 was an action packed first person shooter, with a Bond who looked too much like Pierce Brosnan to be anyone else, but also didn’t look like him at all. Such confusion in my childhood. Such confusion. Anyway, the story revolved around Bond foiling a plot to replace various world leaders with clones, and took him all the way around the world and down to the depths of the ocean. The plot is completely ridiculous, especially for a Bond story, but its fun and keeps the action chugging along at a steady pace, so I’m not complaining. It also features one of my favourite vehicle segments in any game, offering a diverse range of weaponry to play through as you crash your way through the streets of Budapest.

  1. Tomorrow Never Dies


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After Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies was my first experience with a Bond game. A surprisingly adequate third person shooter for the time, this PS1 classic followed the story of the movie. Media mogul Elliot Carver has devious plans for Nuclear destruction, and it’s up to Bond and Wei Lin – a Chinese agent – to stop him. Using actual clips from the movie helped with pushing the story along, and intense gunfights kept my young self entertained for hours. Not to mention the fact that you got to play as Wei Lin for a while, and when I was but a young lad, playing various characters in the same game (outside of fighting games obviously) completely blew my mind! I was a simple child.

  1. From Russia With Love


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This was a surprise hit for me. Throwing things back to the Sean Connery era, but putting some flashy third person shooter mechanics on it was a pretty great idea. I first played it on my sister’s PSP in the car during a family holiday, but when I got home I found the console version and bought it straight away. A nifty feature allowed you to precisely aim at certain spots on an enemy’s body. This made it extremely satisfying to pull off headshots, snap the rope that enemies used to rappel down walls, and even shoot grenades on their belt to blow everyone to hell. Throw in a few jetpack segments and a car chase or two and we have something pretty damn good.

  1. The World is Not Enough


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Following Tomorrow Never Dies, TWINE took things back to first person mode. Following pretty faithfully to the film, the game took you on an adventure to stop the villainous Renard before he takes over the world’s oil market via a nuclear attack (these Bond villains really like their nukes). If I remember rightly, this was my favourite Bond movie at the time, so playing through the intense set pieces – such as the helicopter with the hanging buzzsaws, or the intense chase ending on a hot air balloon – was particularly exciting for me.

  1. Everything or Nothing


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If nothing else, Everything or Nothing had star power behind it, both in terms of cast and characters. Supermodel Heidi Klum and the brilliant Willem Dafoe lent their voiced to the game, and classic henchman Jaws made a return to torment Bond once more in a number of intense boss battles. EoN also had an original story, and took the gameplay back into the third person realm. Gunplay and hand to hand combat felt right, the cover system worked pretty well (especially for the time), and a handful of intense vehicle segments just put the cherry on top.

  1. Nightfire


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Unlike the other games on this list, Nightfire is so high up because of it’s multiplayer. Don’t get me wrong, it had a solid single player campaign, but I have plenty of memories of going head to head with friends in the splitscreen multiplayer. In my opinion, Nightfire had the best splitscreen since Goldeneye, with some wide open maps, a variety of characters and weapons to choose from, and the ability to add up to 8 AI bots to populate them. The single player also delivered a solid experience, taking Bond across the globe and even into space on his mission to save the world from a fiery fate at the hands of a psychotic villain with access to – you guessed it – nuclear missiles!

  1. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent


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Oooooh controversial. Critically, this game was a mixed bag. Some people loved it, some hated it. I’m in the first crowd. Strangely enough, this game doesn’t even feature Bond as more than a cameo. Instead you play as an ex-MI6 agent, disgraced for being overly brutal. Recruited by Auric Goldfinger to assassinate Dr No, Rogue Agent brings back plenty of familiar faces, as well as some meaty gameplay to get stuck into. The unnamed agent is augmented with some funky upgrades, including a prosthetic eye, which allows him to see enemies through walls, as well as some other cool features. Plus, Rogue Agent gives a huge array of weapons to play with, and even the ability to dual wield. Admittedly, Rogue Agent isn’t for everyone due it’s darker tone, lack of Bond-isms (no gadgets, girls or cars here), and the fact that Bond himself isn’t the central protagonist, but despite all of this, and despite being one of the more challenging FPS games I’ve ever played, Rogue Agent still sits in my memory as my favourite Bond game…aside from Goldeneye…obviously.

 Lets be honest, plenty of you will probably disagree with my list. These are MY favourite games, and sure some of them are for subjective reasons, but Bond has had an undeniably successful run in the video game world. Aside from a few hiccups (only one of which was completely bad), so heres the future of Fleming’s superspy. Let me know what you think of the Bond games in the comments!

Until next week, keep gaming guys!

…That was this week’s VuePoint!!! Check back on Tuesday for a new BearSleuth Opinion Piece!!!

Comic History 101: Gotham Central

There are a lot of sad stories in every medium and genre. Opportunities where true greatness could have come through but was unrecognised. Critics or general audiences take a book or film or piece of art and shoot it down because it is too experimental or doesn’t fit with the mainstream of the time. Gotham Central is one of these stories as it is a series that both saw wide acclaim in its critical reception and a devastating lack of sales. This is a series which had real potential but unfortunately didn’t quite make the break and for that it is simply fascinating to talk about.

Working day and night


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In March 2001 Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker worked together on a Batman crossover entitled ‘Officer Down’ in which Commissioner Gordon was shot by an unknown assailant. The crossover was fairly successful and the two writers found that they enjoyed working alongside one and other. This led them to bounce around a few ideas and eventually pitch a series looking at the cops of Gotham. Gotham Central. The interesting aspect of the piece came from Rucka and Brubaker’s decision to split the writing and the characters so that Rucka would be writing the day shift and Brubaker would be writing for the night shift. This gave the two GCPD crews very different feels and created a series that could run two stories simultaneously.

Eisners and failure


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The series began to gain some critical acclaim as it worked with very human problems and gave a different view point on the world of Gotham. This led to an Eisner nominations for the series in 2003 for best new series, best writer (for both Rucka and Brubaker) and best penciller/inker. With these nominations also came the new that the series was beginning to fail. It was consistently struggling to place in the top 100 each month and seemed to be losing it following. While Brubaker is quoted as saying this never presented a danger of cancellation for the series, it was plain to see that the higher ups at DC did not consider the series to be beneficial to their bottom line and so they began to divert resources away from the project. Lark and Brubaker began to drift on to other projects and eventually Rucka decided to cancel the series after Infinite Crisis.

Lesson’s to be learned


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When looking into why the series struggled I’m honestly a little perplexed, most reviews seem to be pretty positive and even the slightly more negative ones have specific problems with certain characters instead of the overarching narrative. This book was one of the strongest DC were putting to the shelves at the time and my only thought is that there was either a deficiency in the marketing campaign. There can be an issue with more experimental titles finding their place in the industry but with the rise of companies such as Image I think this series would have be seen as a worthy competitor to the growing independent scene if it had hit shelves today. This is just a case of the right book at the wrong time and I am glad that I am able to share with you this hidden gem of a book. Next week I will be looking at Secret Invasion and how Marvel looked at post-9/11 fears.

…That was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Saturday for a new BearSleuth spoiler free comic book bundle!!!