Peter Jackson's second Middle Earth trilogy wraps up in this shortest entry. That is, if short is 2 hours 24 minutes to you. Although the battle portion of the Hobbit book is thought of as an epilogue to the whole adventure and doesn't have all that much time attended to it, Jackson decided it was worth 2 and half hours of screen time. Some of the content really is worth the time, but the rest like parts of the previous two films before it isn't so much.
Battle Of The Five Armies opens with Smaug's decent onto Lake-Town. There is no recap of the events before or some opening monologue from one of heroes or villains, we are straight into this finale. Director Peter Jackson keeps up this quick pace through-out. This might be Jackson's most tightly edited Middle Earth film so expect to not expect 15 endings here.
Fortunately and unfortunately Smaug's opening scene is fantastic and the highlight of the film. It serves as a fantastic opening, but then puts to shame the actual battle of five armies. You also know deep down watching it that the Smaug scene would have improved Desolation's ending ten-fold.
Martin Freeman is great as Bilbo Baggins and one half of what holds this movie together. But it's Richard Armitage's fashionably late turn as Thorin that truly sticks scenes to your eyes with a fantastic performance as he fights the Dragon's Disease, which is another way of saying he has lots of gold and gets greedy.
When the actual battle begins Jackson handles the camera with a beautiful eye for capturing the battles as he has done previously but if someone was to walk past and look on screen, completely out of context of what was on they might ask; "What's this animated one called then?"
The Hobbit films have all had a very plastic look to there CGI but it was quite awful in The Battle Of The Five Armies. Combine that with an awful fight scene with Legolas and the movie can be outrageously ridiculous. It just seemed like Jackson got an amateur special effects and CGI kit for hi birthday and went crazy with it.
When I watched The Fellowship of The Ring for the first time I had no idea what I was in for, I hadn't read the book, I didn't even know it was a book. That movie filled me with joy and genially scarred me with it's villains. But I just don't find Azog to be as menacing as even a pawn Orc from The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, he simply looks to be made of play-doh.
If you wasn't a fan of the Jackson injected folly of romance between Evangeline Lilly's Tauriel and Aidan Turner's Kili don't expect to be moved here either. Although the romance coped a lot of slack online I will stick by my comments of enjoying the aspects it had to offer. That said; Battle of The Five Armies ruins any hopes and dreams I had for the relationship, instead going on a very stereotypical route and leaving Tauriel in a stupid place as a character.
The Battle of the Five Armies manages to leave many things and people in weird place or simply un-explained at all. For continuing characters into the Lord of The Rings Trilogy it makes sense but leaving someone like Bard and his co un-explained or even not explaining what exactly happens to the gold and jewels in the mountain. Instead of any of the information that might be interesting to tying up this trilogy we receive several corny scenes involving Bilbo, Legolas and Gandalf setting up for you to boot Fellowship of The Rings following this feature. Jackson tries to tie the films together nicely but it's not coy or cute, it's loud and obnoxious, we as an audience aren't that dumb and we know what we're watching as we know the sky is blue.
The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies isn't a bad film and it's certainly leaps and bounds ahead on the chart compared to an Unexpected Journey. It still just misses everything that made Jackson's first trilogy so great. It's a decent finale to the trilogy but you will be sticking those Lord of The Rings discs in the blu-ray played nine times out of ten before you put any of the Hobbit films on.
Lots of games are great without having story as their main prerogative and can simply rely on great gamplay; Borderlands is one such game series. Thus making last years announcement from Telltale that they would be making a five part series in the universe all that much stranger.
I played platinumed the original Borderlands. I loved that and was ready for the sequel but when it arrived it sat unwrapped on my shelf and still is. Not for loss of interest but I was pre-occupied with other games, mainly Tomb Raider at the time I think. So as someone who has read how much more stronger the story and characters were in Borderlands 2 and the connections of that games villain to Tales From The Borderlands, is it understandable? Can you play it if your in similar situation to me? You sure can, because I did and although I undeniably must have missed some in-jokes or references I still had a blast.
If you've played any of the Borderlands you know it's all about shooting, looting, oh and shooting. But forget that. Telltale sticks to what they do best and don't try to integrate to much new into their formula. However the two leads- Rhys and Fiona- are fantastic and could end up being up there with Clementine as some of Telltales best characters.
Episode One: Zer0 opens with one of the leads Rhys in a bit of a predicament and he begins retelling the events of what could be a 24 hour period to a week or more. Rhys works at Hyperion which is a big bad company of some sort, apparently. Well according to anyone actually on the planet Pandora it is anyway. If I had played Borderlands 2 I'm sure this all would have made more sense but as it is, the concept of an evil corporation that the little guys despise isn't that had of a concept to get your head around.
The best thing with Rhys and eventually Fiona is that you really get to mold them in a way you feel fit. Straight up a-hole, sure. More of a clumsy idiot, sure that could be your Rhys. You can be either or somewhere in the middle if you like.
Once Tales From The Borderlands gets into gear it really doesn't stop. It's the fast paced crazy Pandora you all know and remember with crazy and colourful characters. I know I wouldn't want to meet some of these guys in a dark alley and Rhys arrival on Pandora is met with you needing to find directions, to which I was willing to try anything but talking to anyone (unfortunately you kinda have to.)
Later in the episode you get control of Fiona but I won't say under what circumstances for fear of ruining a cool story ploy.
Where Rhys has the ability to scan objects in the environment which can lead to some hilarity, Fiona has money. She can collect money in some places and spend it at certain opportunity's. None of it made much sense to me however. There was a chance to bribe someone shortly after gaining control of Fiona but I didn't have anywhere near the cash needed to pull it off. I'm not sure how/if I could have missed money and later in the game you also get to purchase one of three masks, it's not much of an incentive to search out for any money. None of this matter much though because I also had my cash glitch out and I lost a few dollars moving from one scene to another.
I legitimately laughed out loud at least a few times in this 2-3 hour non-stop spectacular start to this new series from Telltale. Grab your season pass folks this is kicking of to be one hell of a ride.
For some an adventure game or a point and click style game with a cartoonish art style might sound horrible, especially for a Game of Thrones game. How could those elements hope to put forth the doom and gloom style of HBO's Game of Thrones? Let alone tell a story as nail-biting. If your asking any of those questions you haven't played a Telltale game before or specifically their Walking Dead series. Because they without a doubt they nail Game of Thrones.
First thing that should be noted however is that you cannot be dipping your fingers into the GoT universe here. The episode opens at a major plot point in the shows third season and you'll be spoiling that for yourself and wont understand much either. So go catch up on GoT before even thinking about starting this episode.
Iron from Ice starts great with you in control of Garrud Tuttle, squire to Lord Forrester who are celebrating at the Red Wedding and we all know how well that wedding goes. After the events of that horrible evening unfold the HBO shows opening credits sequence and theme kick in and it's just like your playing an episode of the show, which you are, but are also soon to learn those hard decisions characters in the show make are a lot harder when your making them.
If you have played any of Telltales recent series you will be familiar with all the gameplay elements you'll encounter. Conversations tick down until you make a decision, combat or action will have you swinging the analog stick in the right direction and slamming X a bunch or times; or at its most complex a combination of the above. It's basic stuff but these games shine with the story telling and characters not so much ground breaking gameplay.
Unlike the last few episodes of the Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us you don't get much chance to do any walking around any areas. Your confided to two small places and spend the rest of the episode locked in conversation with people or in some sort of action sequence. Which is fine because this is where it is the most exciting.
You will play as two other characters in Iron from Ice and will switch from one to another throughout much like and episode of the show or as in the books. Ethan Forrester is the most interesting of all three with his struggles to take up duty of ruling the Forrester seat of Ironrath while his father is not there. His siter Mira Forrester is a handmaiden to Margarey Tyrell in Kings Landing which leads to seeing some familiar characters from the show. Although she does play a part in the episode i found her story to be the weakest of the three even with the appearances of the TV counterparts.
Voice acting is top notch across the board from new the new characters to the TV ones that fans know. Ethan's stuff of political and tactical converse is particularly well delivered by all involved.
Iron from Ice is a great prologue episode that does a lot of setting up and pointing characters in certain directions, which would explain this being a six episode series not Telltales normal five.
I played Iron from Ice on PS4 and the thing thing I noticed as someone who had played all of Telltales last gen titles on PS3 was the improvements on the new hardware. No more freezing, hanging, FPS drops or random bugs. Although I still had some animation issues like a character walking through a fireplace and not the door next to it. This is apparently an issue across the board on all platforms though and doesn't do much to hinder your experience of this great first episode.
The Hunger Games gets the split finale treatment with Mockingjay Part One. Francis Lawrence returns to Direct following the success of Catching Fire; picking up more or less where Catching Fire ended, with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) having been saved from the games and now in District 13.
Katniss is soon introduced to the President of the District Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and asked to be the rebellions Mockingjay, a symbol to inspire others. She politely refuses unless Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is rescued as he wasn't from the games. After this set up of events however the plot moves atrociously slow.
Putting it out there now, I did have a peek at my to check the phone at one point because I was getting so bored- and- I have
read the books; the source material isn't at fault here. It was a combination between a terribly stretched out script and the fact that someone, presumably the studio, decided to split Mockingjay from one movie into it's two parts. Mockingjay Part One simply isn't a full movie, it's a stretched thin first half of what should have been one movie and as such reviewing it as a full feature does seem stupid.
Mockingjay injects some book changes which come for the good and the bad. The addition of Eddie (Elizabeth Banks) in District 13 was an obvious but smart deviation from the source material. Banks as Effie is simply to good and she wasn't just put in the District; screenwriters Danny Strong and Peter Craig managed to give her an actual job in the plot. Unfortunately however departing from the books first person perspective of Katniss takes away from the mystery of a lot of the Capitols and other Districts events. Where the previous two films had departed from the Katniss FOV also to show President Snow (Donald Sutherland) which had added to the plot in a positive way, showing what's happening outside of District 13 ruined the mystery and tension I remember having when reading the book. Not knowing what was happening outside of 13 but knowing to well that the other Districts are at war with the Capitol was thrilling. Was 13 going to get bombed out of know where? Are tanks going to roll up on the front door? Are the others Districts even still standing? We know a lot of those questions watching Mockingjay. It's an Achilles heel because showing the other Districts does make for some more cinematic scenes.
The returning cast of The Hunger Games are OK. They pull mostly all the same notes and Lawrence does go a bit far into the screamy-crying pit at some points. Hutcherson and Banks are at there best. Liam Hemsworth as Gale sees his most screen time so far in the series but at this point in the story it's just so apparent that Katniss is simply in love with Peeta that the love triangle seems unnecessary and boring. PSA Girls and Guys: Leading someone on to think they might have a chance with you isn't okay.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was nothing short of a huge disappointment to me. I didn't expect movie of the year but I didn't expect to get 3 quarters of drawn out material where not a single charachter even goes from point A to B in anything that could be considered a narrative. It's not all bad and there is some standout scenes but when it is bad it's boring.
+ Hanging Tree/ Book moments fans wanted + Effie is there
- Boring - 3/4 Drawn out Material
- Loses Books Mystery - You have to watch this to get to Part 2
From the creators of Halo comes Destiny! That alone screams hype and sets expectations high for Bungies new IP and non-Xbox exclusive, Destiny.
Destiny, admittedly I could never work my head around on paper. The premise of an always online shooter that isn't quite a MMO doesn't translate well to preview articles or P.R pieces, not for me anyway. Not until I put a couple hours into the Destiny Alpha. At some point after I had shot down loads of Aliens, geared up, taken down a giant purple eyeball and wandered around shadowing other players for giggles did I understand Destiny. I stopped playing, didn't touch the Beta and put my pre-order cash down. Now just over a hundred hours into the final product I feel like I have enough experience to review this huge game.
As someone to have never touched a Halo game I didn't come into Destiny expecting a grand story as some have, I did however expect a story. Be prepared for little of that though. Somewhere between words like --- The Traveler! --- The Darkness! --- Guardian! --- Lies a story about good vs evil and what it really all boils down to is just, shoot stuff. Which I'm okay with. I never payed any attention to Diablo's story either. The disappointment hits when the premise, world and inhabitants seem so interesting, but alas there is no material to back any of it up. If you want to get into to the minutia of Desinty's lore be prepared to hit up Bungies website and read the back of Grimoire cards which you unlock playing. That's right be prepared to go elsewhere, not in your game.
Visually Destiny is beautiful. If you wasn't playing it week of release I'm sure your social media outlet of choice was spammed with screen shots of the game. Each of the three planets and the moon vary enough to not feel like your re-treading same ground. Each also showcase stunning scenery and beautiful sky/space backdrops to slow pan around.
Destiny shines at its gameplay and specifically its shooting mechanics. Gun play wise it is near perfect as you can get. Weapon types varry enough to warrant experimentation and with certain weapons infused with elemental damage, switching around is a must to take down certain enemy shields.
Making your way through all the apparent story missions might put you around level sixteen or seventeen. Destiny begins to hit its stride when you hit level twenty and make your way into the PVP area The Crucible and star hitting up strikes and raids.
Hitting the technical level cap of twenty you can begin to work on your light level. This will allow you to go above and work towards the real level cap of thirty, but only by acquiring better legendary and exotic gear. Getting legendary and higher gear comes from engrams which then need to be decrypted by a merchant in the HUB esq world called The Tower. Pre patch 1:02 this was a grueling affair. The excitement of finding a legendary engram would almost certainly lead to despair when it decrypted into a rare or uncommon item. Fortunately Bungie changed this and legendary will always be legendary now, why the system wasn't like this to begin with or changed faster out the gate from players back-lash I don't understand.
The hunt for better gear and parts to upgrade your gear is the bread and butter of Destiny. Embark on a high level strike (a three man mission with a boss at the end) or have a go at a daily heroic story mission (added difficulty and modifiers) which offers good rewards for completion. Be prepared to put up with repetitive and non-inspired mission structure however. The majority of which simply involve pressing a button to make your ghost start working on a door or something alike and then shooting anything that comes in the room. Making your way to the final boss where he will soak up and take a million bullets to hit and with no real strategies to make the battle easier or faster they become tiresome.
Other materials for upgrading your items can be found randomly in chests and spread out in planets areas. Farming these materials is the most MMO like aspect of Destiny. I suggest putting something else on to watch or listening to something while farming materials, it's not exactly fun.
I mentioned I'm one-hundred hours into Destiny. The thing is, I doubt I would have out close to that into it without playing with friends. Aside from visual emotions of pointing, waving and dancing you won't be able to communicate with random players. The ravaged world out there is a lot lonelier by yourself, trust me and grab a friend or two.
PVP in Destiny tries to handle the fact that some players will have advantages of gear and level by evening the stats across the board. Weapons special skills still stay however so even though your Shotgun might do as much damage as the enemies his has full auto and guess who wins that fight? These little factors can be annoying but that don't completely unbalance PVP. The Crucible is a lot of fun. The majority of the maps are well designed and fun. You have standard death match affairs but I spent the majority of my time playing control. A capture the points and kill stuff in between game and it's simple but fun.
Bungie put together a cast of great actors for Destiny unfortunately that money was down the drain. Your ghost, a small robotic sidekick that revives you at the start of your adventure is a voiced by Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) a fantastic actor. Here he sounds bored or I'd like to believe was simply badly Directed. Bill Nighy (Underworld) voices The Speaker, who speaks for the giant orb thing called the Traveler --- or something like that --- who spends most of his time telling you that he could be telling you, that he could be telling you some plot detail, but he isn't. Destiny literally cock blocks itself from it's own plot in some play to appear mysterious.
Destiny has one Raid available. At one-hundred hours I haven't played it. It is apparently a really length mission that requires lots of teamwork and it supposed to be pretty darn hard. I'd love to play that! Unfortunately Bungie made the decision that it was to hard for non pre-organised groups of players and didn't include match making. To play it you will need A) high level players B) all be available at the same time for a long amount of time and then --- attempt the raid. It's really annoying that I have friends all playing Destiny and are high level but can we all organize around work and such to play at the same time? Nope.
The world of Destiny is beautifully unfulfilled with friends and enemies designed better than their history and story deserves. Shooting mechanics and gear are varied, fun and satisfying. Fortunately shinning moons and shiny loot drops won't help outshine Desiny's biggest issues. But be damned if Destiny simply isn't a lot of fun and even funner with friends. With the work and feedback Bungie has taken so far I can see Destiny becoming only better over time, akin to the MMO's it has taken elements from. At the time being it is an okay shooter though and requires acceptance of all it's issues to get enjoyment out of. Get to that fun however and Destiny can be rather addicting.