Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Square Enix Everyday Heroes Contest Offers $10,000 Scholarship Fund!

In the award-winning episodic adventure game, Life is Strange, our protagonist Max Caulfield participates (somehow reluctantly due to lack of confidence) in Everday Heroes Contest whose main theme is to take pictures of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and to celebrate these silent heroes while also promoting the young aspiring photographers who captured these images.

Max Caulfield's Everyday Heroes submission

Square Enix is bringing this contest to life and offering $10,000 Scholarship Fund as a grand prize to the winner! Top 3 finalists will have their photos printed, framed, and signed by Life is Strange developer Dontnod staff and will also be featured on all Square Enix social channels.

You can check out the gallery of the featured photographs that are chosen daily by the Life is Strange team and submit your entries here.

If somehow you are living under a rock and have never heard of Life is Strange before or you have never played it but want to read a spoiler free review of the incredible game, check out my review.

Good luck!

Friday, 15 January 2016

We Lost Alan Rickman :(

Yesterday morning I woke up to this horrifying news of Alan Rickman losing the battle against cancer at the age of 69. The world has lost another great talent. I really don't know what to say. I'm completely lost for words at the moment. 

I just loved watching his work, he was such a talented actor. He was mesmerizing in Die Hard, Sweeney Todd, Perfume, Harry Potter and all his other movies I got a chance to watch. Hell, Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes were my only reasons to start watching Harry Potter in the first place. 

So many losses, so much cancer everywhere. The year of 2016 definitely had a terrible start! What is there to say really? How many more great people do we need to lose before we are completely consumed by the evil ones?

The world is definitely a much emptier place without him. He will be greatly missed. My deepest condolences to all his family, friends and to us fans. He will live forever in our hearts and in the magnificent work he has produced. Goodbye Alan Rickman :'(  

Monday, 4 January 2016

Life is Strange Review: Prepare for Heavy Emotions!

Life is Strange is a story driven, episodic graphic adventure game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix in which player choices make significant impacts on the rest of the story.

When a game is this rich in story, how can one truly capture the essence of how wonderful it is by writing a spoiler free review? Because I want this post to be as spoiler free as possible as one tiny detail can completely ruin the shocking and horrifying experience Life is Strange can offer. What is really left to talk about if I can't describe the story or how certain parts affected me and how they completely changed my perspective? Well; nonetheless, I will try my best and promise that I will not ruin anything for anyone. 

Life is Strange tells the story of Max Caulfield, an aspiring but also insecure young photographer who attends Blackwell Academy in a fictional town called Arcadia Bay. Blackwell Academy has become an attractive option for photography students as it has the prestigious and famous photographer Mark Jefferson working there as a teacher. Even Max herself picked that school just to learn from him as she feels inspired by him and his work.

So far things may seem very normal at the peaceful small town Arcadia Bay until at the very start of the game Max has this horrific vision of a tornado bringing death and destruction to it. After this vision and following some events I will not spoil, Max finds out that she has the gift of reversing time. Our protagonist tries her best to use this gift to help people in need while also desperately trying to find an explanation for her gift and vision. However, all this time travelling to help people will have serious, undesired and very ugly consequences that Max will keep on trying to fix while breaking something else in the process that leads to even more unexpected outcomes. Story wise, I really can't tell more than that because anything I say will have the potential to ruin the stunning and shocking experience this game provides to its players so I will try to talk about generic things.

I already mentioned that Life is Strange is based on player choices. Some of the choices you make will significantly affect the story. For example a choice you made in episode 1 will be reminded to you in episode 5, so do not take these choices lightly! The dialogues you opt for will also change how characters see you. Don't forget that you can travel back in time if you get an outcome you don't like after a dialogue or decide to make a different choice; but there will be times where you won't be able to reverse time so always think very carefully as they have the power to completely change the course of events and how things play out.

Apart from the extremely powerful story, another great feature of Life is Strange is the soundtrack. Original Life is Strange score is breathtaking and songs are absolutely beautiful. Especially in the final episode; the 2 songs that play for 2 different endings can both easily get people hooked. I definitely suggest getting Life is Strange with its soundtrack as bonus content as I believe you will not regret it!

When I first started playing Life is Strange, the reactions I got from my gamer friends around me were pretty much the same. "Prepare to cry", "have tissues ready", "your life will never be the same again", "oh, the feels are real". These are all exact quotes and I was a bit skeptical at first because no game has ever made me feel so emotional other than Telltale's The Walking Dead. Thus I was prejudiced in that I didn't think that my experience with Life is Strange would compare to it. Don't get me wrong, I am not comparing the games, I am just comparing the feelings these games made me go through. As a result, now that I finished both of these games I can safely say that Life is Strange made me much more emotional than The Walking Dead maybe because it has a more realistic feel to it (excluding time travel) or most possibly because I have personal experience with certain elements that were in the game. All in all, especially episode 2, 4 and then 5 were seriously tough for me to play through. 

Life is Strange is not a game for the weak of heart. It is not a game you can "enjoy" cause it has a lot of sick and disturbing things happening that will chill someone to their very bone (provided you are an actual human being with feelings and a functioning conscience), but it is an absolutely breathtaking ride anyone should choose to take. See? This must be one of those very important choices in your life. Don't play Life is Strange and continue living like nothing happened or play it and let it transform you. Go with the latter one, it is "hella" worth it! (This is the original ending of the spoiler free review).

I know I said this would be a spoiler free review but I just have to let this out. So the following paragraphs will contain HEAVY SPOILERS about Life is Strange and its endings so DON'T READ if you haven't played the game!!! Again I am warning you, HEAVY SPOILERS INCOMING!!

Personally, I was very underwhelmed by the very final choice. To me it was such a clear decision of sacrificing Chloe to save Arcadia Bay and all those people from the tornado. I totally understand those who say they would feel like it was all for nothing if they sacrificed Chloe so they let Arcadia Bay get destroyed to let Chloe live; but I don't see the events taking place in the game would be worthless if I didn't save her. 

To me it felt like that one week Max and Chloe spent together after being apart for so long was filled with events showing us that no matter what Max did to save her, Chloe would always somehow end up dead and in her attempts at doing so would cause even more cracks in the original timeline which caused the tornado in the first place and all these other unfortunate natural disasters that could have all been avoided. Yes, again I understand those who are of the opinion that they didn't want to lose their closest friend that they worked so hard to save but don't tell me it's a logical option :P I would never let hundreds of people and a whole city get destroyed just to save 1 person however close she might be to me. Also bear in mind that it was Chloe who was doing dealings with all these shady characters. Of course she doesn't deserve to die for that but can you explain why hundreds of people have to pay for her mistakes and poor life choices after tragically losing her caring father in a car accident?  

I also want to give a huge credit to the writers for making us believe that Jefferson was just an innocent character without ever allowing us to suspect him for a second until of course the horrible revelation that he was the antagonist all along, not Nathan or David. The story did a fantastic job of making Nathan and David look like antagonists while hiding the real one in the shadows which made the ending of the episode 4 all the more brutal, shocking and stunning for me. Well I admit, I was a Jefferson fangirl, so of course I was upset and disgusted! And while Nathan is not innocent at all, he was just a pawn for Jefferson to manipulate and use or even frame for his evil plans. Incredibly well done writers!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Karax Joins Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void Co-Op Missions

One of the best features of Legacy of the Void is the introduction of Co-op missions, once dubbed as Allied Commanders. It is now possible to do campaign like missions against AI with a friend for maximum entertainment. The Co-op mode has different commanders for all races and they all have different units, abilities, talents, structures etc.

Blizzard will be adding more missions and commanders to this Co-op mode. However, these additional commanders will sadly be purchased with money. Although fortunately for us the first commander that was introduced is available to all players for free and this commander is Karax the Phasesmith. I should mention again that from now on, the next commanders being added to the game will have to be purchased.

I was happy once I read that another Protoss commander was joining the ranks as I'm a Protoss player myself and Karax boasts some of the best units that the Protoss arsenal can offer. Immortals, Carriers and Collossus, what more can I want? (except my most favourite units Dark Templars; but my main commander, Vorazun, provides that fix for me).

But my happiness was immediately transformed into severe anger and frustration for a number of reasons once I got a chance to play Karax. Karax is possibly the most defensive commander of all. He has Monolith, Photon Cannons and Shield Batteries as structures. He can also use Energizers as force fields to be able to warp in these buildings or units which works really well with other Protoss commanders. However, Karax himself can only warp in Zealots and Energizers from Gateway so he can't fully take advantage of these Energizers until after his level 11 ability which lets him warp in Pylons and other defensive structures I mentioned instantly. His main offensive units come from Robotics Bay and Stargate.

Karax's main problem lies in the prices of his units. A regular Carrier costs 300 minerals and 250 vaspene gas whereas Karax's Carriers cost 525 minerals and 375 vaspene gas. These inflated prices are applied to every single unit of Karax which makes him one of the weakest commanders in early game especially for aggressive maps. His anti air is also almost non-existent in early game; but towards mid and late game, you can warp in Phoenixes and Carriers, for a price of course...

Yes, Karax's units are brutally expensive but the Phasesmith has certainly perfected the Spear of Adun to fully utilize its powers for maximum advantage. Solar Forge structure allows Karax to upgrade Spear of Adun with a number of abilities and utilities. Until you level up to unlock new upgrades, the initial upgrade in Solar Forge allows Karax to gain more energy to use Spear of Adun abilities a lot more often. One of the best features of Karax's Spear of Adun is being able to cast unlimited number of Orbital Strikes with no cooldown which naturally becomes your prime ability to aid your ally in early game. He also has a Chrono Boost ability that gives a 200% bonus speed to production time for him and his ally (upgraded to 500% as you level up). I find this rather useless as Karax can't queue up that many units to begin with due to their extremely high costs. So far I only truly got maximum use of the Chrono Boost to saturate my 2nd base as quickly as possible.

The second big problem with Karax is that his level 11 ability should definitely be swapped with 1. Once Karax reaches level 11, he is then able to warp in Pylons, Shield Batteries, Monoliths and Cannons INSTANTLY, similar to his hero ability during a certain campaign mission in Legacy of the Void where his body acts as a force field and he is able to warp in a Cannon instantly to aid you. This ability is very important for Karax as he will be able to use his Cannons offensively as well as defensively. With this ability, he can instantly warp in Cannons in the middle of battle on the force fields provided from Energizers or Pylons that can also be warped in instantly. If this level 11 ability was level 1, Karax would also become pretty effective in early game as well and he would be much more fun to level up. Because in his current state right now, it's just such a terrible drag that it feels like torture. I feel like I'm punishing myself when I play Karax, and this is extremely upsetting because he is an intriguing commander with a fresh take on Protoss gameplay.

When I did a mission with my ally as Artanis, by the time I could warp in only 2-3 Immortals, he was already pretty much done with the entire mission. If I had level 11 ability, I could have at least felt more useful. I really hope that Karax's abilities will be tweaked because currently; until late game, there is nothing substantial to do but spam Orbital Strike until you get your economy up and running which just happens too late...

Karax might be pretty weak in early game but he is definitely one of the best commanders for late game. He just isn't that very entertaining to play... Instead I'll just get back to my OP Vorazun, who really needs to be nerfed, and solo Brutal missions with my most favourite units, Dark Templars! :P

Friday, 18 December 2015

Flesh and Bone Cancellation Thoughts

Ever since I heard about the production of a show like Flesh and Bone, I was pretty excited to get something unique on TV for once. When I first read about Flash and Bone, to me it seemed to be ballet show from the first look but after watching all the episodes; I thought limiting this show like that would be barely scratching the surface.

Even though the beginning paragraph of this post might sound like this will be a review, it isn't the case. I will still briefly talk about my feelings about the show; however, the main purpose of this post is to convey my sadness regarding its cancellation.

Sarah Hay and Sascha Radetsky
Yes, Flesh and Bone is not a magnificent show by any means. The acting isn't great, the writing is decent enough but it's a visually stunning series that is lacking on TV these days. Dancing was absolutely breathtaking and flawless especially from our lead Sarah Hay and of course Sascha Radetsky, Ben Daniels was displaying one of the best performances of his career (Golden Globe snub!!), our ears were treated to some incredible music and last but not least, it was such a pleasant surprise to see Alex from So You Think You Can Dance as an extra. These factors should be more than enough to keep a show going especially considering what we see on TV these days. It makes me so sad that in reality, they aren't enough!

Ben Daniels
We had a similar visually magnificent show like Hannibal, which had fantastic acting AND story, and was still cancelled so unfortunately I am not surprised that Flesh and Bone also had the same fate. What is it that these shows are doing wrong? Can anyone please enlighten me?

Why do these visual series keep getting cancelled? Why are our TVs filled with comic stuff these days? Isn't it enough that they are already consuming the big screens? Do we really have to drown in them on TVs too? Why do we keep having shows like Supergirl, Flash etc while shows like Hannibal and Flesh and Bone keep getting cancelled? I am so furious! I also happen to know I'm a minority with this opinion. If there were many people who thought like me, none of these shows would get cancelled in the first place!

I guess there is nothing left to do but to archive Flash and Bone in hopes of re-enjoying it in the future (possibly fast forwarding the nude scenes except Sascha's of course :P) when TV becomes nothing but a medium for super heroes to come alive from the comics. I don't mean to offend anyone who enjoys these materials but you shouldn't deny the fact that they are overwhelming pretty much any form of media right now. I just ask for a bit of a balance between genres and some originality instead of adapted materials over and over again! Goodbye Flesh and Bone.  

Monday, 14 December 2015

Center Stage Review: A Treat for Sore Eyes! :)

Alright, I'll come clean here. I've been pretty much obsessed with Sascha Radetsky ever since I finished watching Flesh and Bone. I don't think anyone can blame me for this! I certainly don't, so I don't care if you do!

Well, I took a brief look at his bio and found that he starred in Center Stage, a ballet oriented movie I have enjoyed a lot, so I wanted to share my thoughts here.

I needed something to get my dance fix as So You Think You Can Dance is only a summer show and its season 13 isn't even confirmed yet. Thus I'm so glad to have found Flesh and Bone and then Center Stage to enjoy some incredible ballet.

But sadly that's pretty much the only strong suit of Center Stage. Unfortunately the acting is pretty sup-bar but Center Stage is the kind of movie you watch for the story and the fantastic dancing bits because if you feel as strongly about dance as I do (I don't dance myself but I'm obsessed with watching classically trained dancers), this is the kind of movie that will be etched onto your heart.

Center Stage follows the story of mainly Jody (Amanda Schull), who is accepted into American Ballet Academy. Alongside Jody there are also other new dancers who try fulfill their dreams of being employed as a ballet dancer in this highly competitive environment. We get to see veteran dancers as well as newly enrolled dancers go through extensive and painful training, their personal problems and relationships with each other.

Center Stage displays the brutal hardships of self sacrifice and suffering these ballet dancers have to go through to provide something magical and beautiful for us spectators. On one hand we have a bulimic young woman who is afraid of a relationship for fear of letting it affect her dancing, on the other hand we have another one who projects a rude personality to hide how much she actually cares about being accepted, not to mention some of the dancers being kicked out for having the "wrong body type". Ok yes, there are also some very dreamy hot guys who happen to be phenomenal dancers but who cares about them right? I certainly don't!!

As I mentioned before, unfortunately the acting is pretty weak in Center Stage but I'd prefer to have dancers who can't act do a dance oriented movie than a bunch of actors who can't dance. Besides amazing choreography alongside flawless talents of Ethan Stiefel and Sascha Radetsky will definitely make you enjoy your time watching the film and forget anything else (*coughs* sorry I didn't focus too much on Amanda Schull *coughs*). If you care even just a little bit about ballet, I strongly urge you to watch Center Stage.

Note to self; fangirling is bad for the quality of your posts. Get a grip if you can...(I probably won't!)

Friday, 11 December 2015

2016 Golden Globes Nominations Thoughts and Snubs

Nominees have been announced for the 73rd Golden Globe Awards which will be hosted for the 3rd time by my most favourite comedian, Ricky Gervais!!! I'm so glad that he is back, I really hope he won't hold back!!

First of all I have to admit that I won't have anything to say about movie nominations because they aren't released in my country yet so I haven't had a chance to watch any of them. Thus I will refrain from talking about them; however, I have plenty of things to say about the TV part!

The best parts about the nominations for me personally are Rami Malek for best actor in a drama, Christian Slater for best supporting actor in a drama and of course Mr. Robot for best TV series. Mr. Robot has been one of the best dramas I have ever had the pleasure of watching in my life. I'd definitely rate it as my top 3 among The Wire and Breaking Bad. And these 3 nominations made me very happy. I hope they will all win their respective categories as I believe it to be highly justified and very well deserved.

Christian Slater(left) and Rami Malek (right) for Mr. Robot.

I'm quite happy for Alan Cumming as well. I think he has always been great in The Good Wife but until now he was always neglected. I don't see him winning against Mr. Robot's Christian Slater but I think he deserved the nod for sure. But in this category, I can't believe American Horror Story's Evan Peters and Denis O'Hare were snubbed of Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for Mini-Series. Both Evan Peters and Denis O'Hare gave us stunning performances in the current season of American Horror Story Hotel and I can't believe that neither of them got a nomination.

Speaking of American Horror Story, Lady Gaga was nominated! Seriously? What the hell were they thinking? I mean she wasn't bad, don't get me wrong. In fact she was quite impressive considering that was her first TV series but by no means was it worthy of a Golden Globe nomination in my opinion. Sarah Fay was only okay in Flesh and Bone, we really shouldn't expect much acting from dancers with 0 acting background, she is definitely a breathtaking dancer, though. I do feel that Jean Smart for Fargo is definitely missing from this category so there goes another snub. I think she was amazing. No matter what though, realistically no-one has any real chance against Kirsten Dunst in this category. She will completely walk away with the award. Actually I'm pretty sure that it's almost a guarantee. She has been absolutely phenomenal in Fargo this season.

As for Flesh and Bone I almost cried watching the 7-minute-long Ballet choreography during the final episode but the show itself was half way decent with only Ballet scenes being incredible. Thus my prediction is that the award for best limited series will surely go to Fargo.

I don't follow the comedy genre so I'll refrain from speaking about them as well; however, I do hope Jeffrey Tambor will win again for Transparent. It's pretty much the only comedy I watch apart from Modern Family and Modern Family has definitely run its course for sure...

After all this chatter regarding my thoughts about some, actually very limited number, of the nominations for reasons I stated above; here is the full list of Golden Globe Awards 2016 Nominees:

Best Motion Picture - Drama

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy

The Big Short
The Martian

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama

Bryan Cranston for Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant
Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl
Will Smith for Concussion

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama

Cate Blanchett for Carol
Brie Larson for Room
Rooney Mara for Carol
Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn
Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy

Christian Bale for The Big Short
Steve Carell for The Big Short
Matt Damon for The Martian
Al Pacino for Danny Collins
Mark Ruffalo for Infinitely Polar Bear

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy

Jennifer Lawrence for Joy
Melissa McCarthy for Spy
Amy Schumer for Trainwreck
Maggie Smith for The Lady in the Van
Lily Tomlin for Grandma

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Paul Dano for Love & Mercy
Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation
Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon for 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone for Creed

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Jane Fonda for Youth
Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight
Helen Mirren for Trumbo
Alicia Vikander for Ex Machina
Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs

Best Director - Motion Picture

Todd Haynes for Carol
Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant
Tom McCarthy for Spotlight
George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott for The Martian

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture

The Big Short, Charles Randolph, Adam McKay
The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino
Room, Emma Donoghue
Spotlight, Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer
Steve Jobs, Aaron Sorkin

Best Original Song - Motion Picture

Fifty Shades of Grey, Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Ali Payami, Ilya Salmanzadeh
Furious Seven, Justin Franks, Andrew Cedar, Charlie Puth, Wiz Khalifa
Love & Mercy, Brian Wilson, Scott Montgomery Bennett
Spectre, Sam Smith, James Napier
Youth, David Lang

Best Original Score - Motion Picture

Carol, Carter Burwell
The Danish Girl, Alexandre Desplat
The Hateful Eight, Ennio Morricone
The Revenant, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carsten Nicolai
Steve Jobs, Daniel Pemberton

Best Animated Film
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie

Best Foreign Language Film

El Club
Le tout nouveau testament
Saul fia

Best Television Series - Drama

Game of Thrones
Mr. Robot

Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy

Mozart in the Jungle
Orange Is the New Black
Silicon Valley

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

American Crime
American Horror Story
Flesh and Bone
Wolf Hall

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama

Jon Hamm for Mad Men
Rami Malek for Mr. Robot
Wagner Moura for Narcos
Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul
Liev Schreiber for Ray Donovan

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama

Caitriona Balfe for Outlander
Viola Davis for How to Get Away with Murder
Eva Green for Penny Dreadful
Taraji P. Henson for Empire
Robin Wright for House of Cards

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy

Aziz Ansari for Master of None
Gael García Bernal for Mozart in the Jungle
Rob Lowe for The Grinder
Patrick Stewart for Blunt Talk
Jeffrey Tambor for Transparent

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy

Rachel Bloom for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep
Jamie Lee Curtis for Scream Queens
Gina Rodriguez for Jane the Virgin
Lily Tomlin for Grace and Frankie

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Oscar Isaac for Show Me a Hero
Idris Elba for Luther
David Oyelowo for Nightingale
Mark Rylance for Wolf Hall
Patrick Wilson for Fargo

Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television

Kirsten Dunst for Fargo
Lady Gaga for American Horror Story
Sarah Hay for Flesh and Bone
Felicity Huffman for American Crime
Queen Latifah for Bessie

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Alan Cumming for The Good Wife
Damian Lewis for Wolf Hall
Ben Mendelsohn for Bloodline
Tobias Menzies for Outlander
Christian Slater for Mr. Robot

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Uzo Aduba for Orange Is the New Black
Joanne Froggatt for Downton Abbey
Regina King for American Crime
Judith Light for Transparent
Maura Tierney for The Affair