Posted in Gaming, Review

The Last of Us and why Single Player Games are the Future.

I have recently finished my playthrough of The Last of Us and it made me think about Playstation’s back catalogue of exclusive titles and what they all have in common. Including the anticipated Game of the Year The Last of Us 2, all of Sony’s exclusives are single player story driven games that might propel them to the most successful console launch ever.

The Last of Us

Firstly, lets talk about The Last of Us. This is a game I had played/ watched in bits and parts but never sat down to take it all in chronologically myself. So with the upcoming release of The Last of Us 2 I rectified this.

I’m so glad I did. I don’t need to tell you that this game is fantastic, it speaks for itself. It is a iconic game for the right reasons. A story driven survival adventure game that does it all right.

The story is fantastic and has one of the best scripts/ direction out there. There’s no wonder HBO want this made into a series, the material is too good to miss out on.

It follows the story of Joel and Ellie on their way to a group called the Fireflys interested in saving humanity from an infection that turns them to zombie like creatures.

Joel is rough, closed of and very typically masculine and makes for a good protagonist on this kind of adventure. His only priority is staying alive and keeping promises. His promises is to make sure 14 year old Ellie makes it to the Fireflies.

Ellie is, for want of a better phrase, humankinds cure. She is unique and immune (kinda typical in a story like this). However its her relationship with Joel that really carries the narrative.

On their journey it is full of turmoil and struggle as they fight through ‘infected’ – those that have caught the disease and turned. The infection is like a fungus that grows and gives them deformities from the brain. It also gives them a horrible clicking noise.

The combat is really good and follows your typical survival mantra. You never have ‘enough’ ammo but multiple ways of approaching combat. There are puzzles, loot and an upgrade system. Its all very well put together.

As I said the story takes its turns, ups and downs its amazing and leaves you wanting more after every little interaction. You really should pick up this game.

The Future is Single Player

The thing is, I find myself constantly saying that after every Playstation game I play. The story is really good, the combat, graphics, systems and everything else is all really good.

Sony really are way ahead of everyone with games like Uncharted, Final Fantasy VII Remake, God of War and Spiderman being top tier, single player games to boost and sell their platform.

There is often a debate over the future of gaming. Will single player titles that were a staple back in the 90’s and 2000’s die out in favour of always online, multiplayer games?

The answer is no. They’re driving the industry forward. The current release for The Last of Us 2 is some of the biggest hype I’ve seen for a long time and it doesn’t even have Co-Op. It’s sales will likely exceed any multiplayer game. Even GTA V launched without multiplayer and gained over $1 billion in revenue.

After it has released we are only left waiting for Cyberpunk 2077, another single player title with as much hype as The Last of Us 2. This kind of unprecedented excitement is rarely seen for releases of multiplayer titles such as Call of Duty, FIFA or a free to play like Fortnite.

September 17th cannot come soon enough.

Moreover, single player titles have always been a benchmark for how well a generation is performing. We think back to games like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro, Metal Gear Solid and Grand Theft Auto for earlier generations and the titles mentioned on Playstation for later titles of how well we are utilising software.

Once developers are dying for more performance to work with for games, we normally see the next generation release. In this case games like Assassins Creed Odyssey, Death Stranding and FFVII Remake are probably the end of this currents generation capability. Without a new generation we probably wouldn’t see more titles.

This is where the need for innovation really comes in, to make more of these games. Unreal Engine V will push forward these experiences and world building even further but Epic didn’t make it for Fortnite and without it, Apex Legends would carry on for many years, thats the difference.

Multiplayer games are often the current that keep us gaming when really we’re waiting on the next single player driven content to get absorbed in.

Sony are the currently the leaders in this movement. Xbox are heavily reliant on their multiplayer franchises to boost console sales and community approaches and PC rarely have exclusives as hyped up as console releases. (That’s a whole other argument that console wins!).

Even the Switch is driven by single player franchises such as Zelda and Pokémon (in the most part) and is incorporating more single player franchises such as Bioshock onto its platform.

Personally I’m a selfish gamer and have always leaned towards single player approaches. I’ve dabbled in some FIFA when I was younger (alot before I found proper good games) and Destiny’s Crucible or Fortnite with buds but it never gave me a feeling like God of War or The Witcher did. Partly because I’m terrible at them, mostly because I love world building and RPG mechanics.

What Sony have is only going to be aimed towards (studios like Bethesda aren’t far off) and I think it is excellent. Ubisoft has seen some joy with their single player orientated releases more than their multiplayers and seem to be going in this direction. People are already asking for Elder Scrolls 6, GTA 6, God of War 2. No one wants Call of Duty 267.

Posted in Film, Review

Uncut Gems Review

Much like the title this really is an uncut and unpolished gem. It really is a bit of a mess and wasn’t deserving of an Oscar.

Adam Sandler surprised everyone when he released his out of character crime drama on Netflix.

Naturally this garnered a lot of attention as to what was Sandler thinking.

The film quickly started to gain praise for its story and portrayal.

All of a sudden it was found amidst award nominations that Sandler wasn’t humble about.

Checking out this film I had high expectations but was ultimately let down.

Uncut Gems follows the events that unfold when Sandlers main character Howard manages to get his hands on a precious uncut Opal from an Ethiopian mine.

With this discovery he hopes to make a lot of money and finally settle all his debts. Not your typical debts, he’s a fucking moron that deals in dodgy business.

It’s all a bit of a mess.

Part of my confusion came when I realised how much he owed to one particular party, $100,000. Yet he appears to own an apartment in New York and a nice family home, a nice car and care for his 3 children.

How could this dodgy del boy really still have any money. His reputation seems to proceed him but he is still able to deal amongst the elite?

Before he is able to sensibly sell on the gem he’s acquired he agrees to let NBA start Kevin Garret look after it who then believes in it spiritually as he performs better.

Mix that in to the people after Howard, his affair and his gambling addiction and its all a bit of a mess. And that’s how I found this film a mess.

It seems looking around that’s what people liked about this film, that its difficult to follow and it really works in Sandler’s favour. I however thought the opposite.

I never struggled to keep up, but I struggled to stay invested. Howard isn’t a likeable character, in fact, no one is. The film ends, and I kind of thought, what’s the point? Nothing is explained, so don’t be looking for answers.

Sandler gains praise, but I honestly thought he’s still same old Sandler, just without any jokes. I’m glad he never won an Oscar. Julia Fox was good throughout and I hope it breaks her into further roles. Idina Menzel had nothing special to work with.

All in all there are some good parts to this film and you do wonder how badly it all ends. Sandler does have another trick up his sleeve, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever see it again. I think with some better direction this film would be a extraordinary crime film. [Insert joke about crime and my time].

Posted in Review, Television

Killing Eve Season Review

Season 3 has wrapped up now and after a slow middle, it ended in superb fashion.

Killing Eve has grown tremendously over the last 4 years or so and for good reason. The BBC America book adaptation of Luke Jennings Codename Villanelle has seen Jodie Comer & Sandra Oh lead an award winning series to great heights through amazing writing and acting.

It is one of my favourite series on TV and I only picked it up last year. I was reluctant as I didn’t know what to expect and have largely not been a fan of British TV. I had some time working away and I was hooked. Its funny, dramatic, mysterious and well made.

Season 3… It Wasn’t Going Well for a While.

When season 3 started in April, it was eagerly awaited. Season 1 was a breath of fresh air and fantastically written and season 2 was more explosive. What could season 3 bring to the table?

From the very start it actually has probably the best opening episode. We are shocked with a cliff hanger that sets up the series plot. We are in truly episode 1 fashion established with the whereabouts of everyone.

Sandra Oh’s Eve is trying to get on with her life, out the way of everything after being shot and left for dead. She has lost her job, husband, house and trust. She is perhaps as vulnerable as we will see her.

Villanelle is married and enjoying life under the assumption her obsession in Eve is now dead. It’s actually at her wedding that one of her old teachers, is teacher the right word? Mentor? Yeah we’ll go with mentor, brings her back to her assassin career.

Carolyn is still at MI6 but with a new prick of a boss. She is of course thrilled with this news. Konstatin is still kicking around all mysterious, but trapped in the UK.

Generally I don’t like spoilers but I have to if I want to type any further. I guess this is your warning?

Kenny fucking dies. We liked Kenny, he was cool but not so cool as to not be shoved off a building.

So naturally everyone wants to know who did it. First thing everyone does know is it wasn’t Villanelle, but could they rule that out, she’s been quiet for a while now?

This is where the series slows right down. episodes 2-5 just don’t do much at all. We see some developments but nothing to really capture what the previous seasons had. It is a bit like a grieving period.

I did like episode 5 mind. It focused around Villanelle and finding her birth family. We learn a lot about her in this episode and it carries a certain charm to it.

But it Gets Good.

Episode 6 is where the show starts to return to its former glory. You can read my review of that episode here.

Throughout this season we’ve seen Villanelle grow. She realises she no longer wants to be a puppet to the 12. She wants out and knows only 1 person that can help her, Konstantin. But does he want to?

Eve is chasing leads and starts to get good ones about what happened to Kenny having teamed back up with Carolyn and Kenny’s old work pals. This leads her to find out that her husband was stabbed in the neck by Dasha, remember the mentor I mentioned earlier.

The show brings back the thrill, humour and the brilliant writing once more. Jodie Comer is fantastic. She plays a different side to Villanelle we haven’t seen. She is desperate, exposed and full of emotion that she hides behind killer outfits and sarcasm.

The star of this series is Carolyn however. Throughout this season we have been focused on her investigation into Kenny and the people close to her in life.

Fiona Shaw is likely to be the next winner from Killing Eve. Her journey through this series tackles her relationship with her daughter Geraldine, played by the under used Gemma Whelan, her obsession with her work and quite frankly her cold attitude.

Geraldine forces Carolyn to show her emotional side, out of frustration more than anything and Fiona truly deserves recognition. If you didn’t already you will grow to like and respect her as a character.

When I try to think of my future, I just see your face over and over again.

The Finale…

So how did this series end?

Excellently that’s how. There was blood, reveals and reunions but not in the way you would expect.

This finale is moving and connects with the emotional season it has been, not in an up and down way but in a honest way. We find out how Kenny came to be thrown from his workplace building and if Konstantin will continue to play both sides.

Eve and Villanelle naturally come together, possibly later than we wanted. When they do it’s after an admission that their obsession is part of them now. This story is about them, but this season is not.

Carolyn gets everything she wanted but is left empty. How she continues will be interesting.

Personally I think it was a excellent way to finish the season. It was explosive and revealing but also raw and sad.

Final Thoughts.

All in all I really enjoyed this season. Sure I love seeing Villanelle extravagantly murder people week in week out but I was tired of the cat and mouse chase.

This season explored the characters more, especially those not called Eve. Jodie Comer was amazing as always and Villanelle is a more fleshed out character.

As I said previously Carolyn is the stand out for this season. Everything is focused on her and her relationships.

The finale was touching and for once didn’t put it all on a cliff hanger.

As good as Villanelles fashion sense / 10.

So it has been confirmed that season 4 is on the way and EW have quoted Sally Woodward Gentle promise a ‘pitch black riot’.

I can’t wait. I know its likely 22 before we see season 4. In the meantime we should see Peaky Blinders return. If we want more of Jodie she’s in Free Guy a film I’m looking forward to after lockdown, as stated here.