Posted in Review, Television

The Umbrella Academy Season 2

The Umbrella Academy Season 2 dropped for us on Friday just gone (July 31). As one of the more anticipated seasons to come out this year, this season lives up to the expectation and hype.

Reflecting back on season 1 I really enjoyed it as an alternative comic book/hero take. It brought a freshness mixed with maturity and story telling to carve it’s own little space in the over saturated market.

It ended with the team (known as the Umbrella Academy once upon a time) being cast back in time to avoid an apocalypse.

Season 2 picks up immediately where season 1 finished. In fact its one of the best scenes within the season (don’t worry we don’t peak early like a Lindsay Lohan career). It sees the gang back together all super’d up to prevent World War 3 in 1963. This is quickly ended when Nukes across the world go off and end the world, again and everyone is dead.

At the centre seems to be Five (Aidan Gallagher). Five seems to be mixed with time travel and at war with The Commission (like the Doctor Who’s of the world) that seems to end in catastrophe every time.

To try and prevent the next apocalypse Five travels back 10 days prior the end of the world to find his family and prevent the events, all over again. Problem is, his family didn’t land in the 1960’s together.

Throughout the seasons early episodes we see how each member landed at different points in time and adjusted to their new lives. Klaus (Robert Sheehan) had become a leader of a peace cult, Diego (David Castaneda) was convinced he needed to save Kennedy from being assassinated and locked up for it, Vanya (Ellen Paige) was on a farm after being hit by a car, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) was married and a political activist for Black Lives and Luther (Tom Hopper) was an underground boxer working for a crime lord.

Their new lives provided us with much better characters than we saw in season 1. They worked off others to give us more of their development and a look inside their thoughts more. This only adds to the shows world building and our attachment to the characters.

We begin to learn about their vulnerabilities and their motivations. It’s here that the conflict of saving the world and returning from the 60’s isn’t in everyone’s best interests. Many of the family are happy, much to Five’s unhappiness. Five hadn’t considered that some had been in the 60’s for years compared to his days.

Saving the world isn’t so easy for Five. We learn that the assassination of Kennedy and their father seem to be involved in starting World War 3, so he and Diego (and a few others) begin to track down a younger version of their dad to find out what the fuck is going on.

Reginald (Colm Feore) is still a dick, seems he always has been and will be. However we see what he was like before being a mentor (more than a father) to the children. We see he’s shady, mysterious, powerful and how even now he has control over the kids through his years or mental manipulation.

The bar certainly seems to have been raised and met.

As the season moves on we’re treated to some excellent plots and sub plots. We see how each characters lives are bigger than they seem. As the apocalypse draws nearer the events get worse, for everybody. The bar certainly seems to have been raised for this season and it has been met. The series writer Steve Blackman has done an exceptional job.

The story moves at a pace you enjoy, the set pieces of action and violence are well handled and the sombre moments are given the attention they need. The chemistry between the cast is great and shines through. The humour works and feels natural with Tom Hopper leading the way, mostly.

One of the best introductions however is Ritu Arya. She plays a character called Lila that we meet when Diego is in a mental treatment facility. Seemingly a throwaway character she attaches herself to Diego and some of the family to help them prevent the apocalypse. As we begin to learn more about her we see how much of the plot is built around her.

She has great energy and brings a sassy style of humour, something that’s been missing. She also balances out the gender power as most of the male characters feel powerful next to the females.

All in all season 2 is well written, acted, paced, scored and it is refreshing. It builds a lot on what season 1 set in place but for the most part it only adds to it. As a comic book TV series its up there with the best of them, but don’t think it’s like the rest.

Posted in Gaming, Review

Console Wars

With Xbox recently showing their hand there’s much to be said about Sony and Microsoft’s movements leading up to the fall. For a large part there seems to be factions of fans sided with each company willing to die for them, arguing on Twitter and bleeding blue or green.

What Did Xbox Have to Say Then?

This time last week Phil Spencer introduced us to some of the projects and games we can expect to see on the Xbox Series X. They led with Halo: Infinite their launch title and possibly Xbox’s biggest exclusive franchise.

Not exactly breath-taking graphically.

It wasn’t the most welcomed look either, despite good numbers on Youtube. The graphics seemed to be somewhat lacklustre for a next gen game. Its possibly the biggest talking point for Halo at the moment and ammo for those in blue.

It had other features unseen before, seemingly being more open world than linear like previous games. The gunplay and enemies seemed to be reprised from the original games and the cut scenes promise a story worth telling.

After Halo however, it was rather forgetful. We saw a teaser for Forza, but that’s it, a small reveal type look. We saw a teaser for Fable (I’m generous when I say teaser) and the same for Avowed, Obsidians Elder Scrolls knock off. There were a bunch of games from all over the genre spectrum and some Microsoft exclusives but nothing too worth mentioning. I say Microsoft as they seem to be aiming for PC/Xbox crossplay/save.

So Who Has the Upper Hand?

This all depends on your approach to gaming. Sony have been quite vocal in their approach and their intentions for next gen.

Sony are ready to leave PS4 behind, with new titles being PS5 only.

For Sony, next gen is the future and the past is to be left behind. Their showcase backed this as well as they seem to be closer to launching more next gen titles than Microsoft. They have had a stronger showing so far in terms of games and exclusives. Arguably Spider-Man has as much attention as Halo, and it’s only a large DLC.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales has stated 4k 60FPS resolution on PS5.

Sony’s console is probably the only thing that hasn’t been received with applause and anticipation. Its clunky and looks kinda weird. Especially next to Xbox’s simple rectangle design. For Sony they would consider this a win, all aspects considered.

Xbox, while having a more attractive console, are lagging behind when it comes to games. They have all their eggs in Halo’s basket in terms of launch title exclusives and are relying on third parties from Ubisoft and CD Projeckt Red to boost their library out of the gate. They’re also looking backwards to games intended for the One.

What Xbox do have is Gamepass. With Gamepass they are significantly lowering the paywall entry into next gen and full priced titles at ~£70. They have secured Destiny 2’s content on Gamepass and promise titles such as Halo: Infinite and Forza for a tenner a month.

In a nutshell for the price of 2 games at release cost, you can game for a year with the Gamepass library. That is huge, but it’s the only thing Microsoft and Xbox are banking on to boost sales after a poor showing for the One series.

Sony on Top?

I would say overall Sony has generated a bigger buzz. It currently leads the console market in sales and has a prestige library of exclusives in its repertoire. When we think of gaming we want the best games and Cyberpunk, Valhalla, Godfall and Spider-Man are all coming to PlayStation by the end of the year, whereas Xbox will only receive half of them.

When push comes to shove, Xbox’s hand will start to prove dominant. Not many of us can afford to keep up a hobby that costs 60-70 of our currency each game. With Gamepass there will be access to a massive back catalog and next gen games which will prove more valuable to some than 1 or 2 top tier entries for PlayStation can do.

I would say that quality is louder than quantity and for this Sony is on top, especially out of the gate. Xbox are looking to multiplayer and community within their games whereas Sony are looking for quality and critically acclaimed titles.

My advice would always be to play with your friends or where your favourite games are at. I can’t bear the thought of not having access to Spider-Man: Miles Morales or God of War 5 (rumoured to be announced next month). So I’ll see you on PlayStation.

Hobbies

You ever just want to change all of your hobbies? Or at least most of them.

I would consider myself to have 3 main hobbies:

  1. Video Games. I love them and play them a fair amount, not as much as I used to but still quite a lot.
  2. TV and Films. This one goes without saying as I have a blog and Instagram dedicated to it. Probably the thing I do most.
  3. Football. I’d play at least once a week most of the time and watch for the rest.

I feel that makes me not very interesting. Not very fit either (that’s a whole other post). I’m on my arse for 80% of the day, but I also wish I had completely different hobbies sometimes, not to increase the on arse to moving ratio but because I think my hobbies found me.

I think hobbies should be things you go out and seek. They bring out the good bits of your personality as usually they make you happy. You should always be happy and smiling and sometimes that is hard, but if baking a loaf of bread helps, go bake that bread.

For me, I love playing guitar. Something I did for a while when I was like 12 or 13 till I went uni at 19. Not that I was ever particularly skilled but it was fun. I love music and imagine myself jamming along to the likes of Vukovi or Architects.

I’ve actually picked up my guitar again, bought an amp and some bits and I’m finding my love for it again. I just need to figure out how to get good, get picked up and tour the world and get rich. Or maybe not, got a bit carried away there.

I’m missing a few inches for basketball

But when it comes to football, I would trade it in a heartbeat to play basketball once a week. It’s weird how it’s not even a contest. Something I’ve been doing for years and years but its not my favourite sport to play. Its likely if basketball was more accessible in this country it wouldn’t be my favourite sport period.

It’ s weird that sometimes we consider our hobbies to be the things we are used to doing. It’s not always the things we wish we did, or would like to do.

I’ve certainly looked into playing basketball but its few and far between opportunities in Leicester. I could hire out the court at my local leisure centre but that seems against the point for just me.

I think my love for basketball comes from Space Jam. Its the earliest I remember enjoying it. Things like One Tree Hill, Coach Carter and NBA being on Sky all reaffirm my love for the sport. Also Jordan and Kobe were possibly the biggest athletes during my younger years so it was all around me really.

I guess my point for this blog post is to consider that if what you do is a hobby or is it something you’re used to doing and call it a hobby? Thinking about what would you do if you could do anything and is that what you’re doing?

I would certainly aspire to follow more of the things you love and explore how you can do them, whatever it might be, just don’t settle.

Let me know made you chase your hobby or gave you inspiration.