Thursday, 3 April 2014

April: Now Playing

Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

pic from vgblogger

This retro rhythm-music side scrolling platforming game is the sequel to Bit.Trip Runner. The basics of the game is to reach the end of the level, collecting gold and plus signs along the way. There are different worlds that vary in difficulty and introduce new moves (slide, kick etc.) and boss battles at the end of world. I believe there is somewhat of an underlying storyline but the way I’ve been playing hasn’t forced me to pay too much attention. The gameplay ties in with the rhythm of the music, hence the name. I’ve been playing it for a few months now after having acquired it from a humble bundle and I just drop in and out when I’m bored and tend to stop when I get too agitated. To put it lightly, it is a rage inducing game and I usually have to talk myself out of not smashing my keyboard through my monitor. It is recommend that the player uses a controller but I’ve been playing with my keyboard just fine – using the arrow keys rather than the wsad options given in the tutorials. I enjoy playing a game where I don’t have to put too much thought into the gameplay or invest too much time in the story, so this is perfect just to open and play every now and then.

Guild Wars 2

GW2 is an mmo that I play all the time but it’s worth mentioning anyway. It has been my first mmo experience and the collector/explorer in me has kept me more than busy in the world of Tyria. I’ve racked up more hours than the people who introduced me to the game a few months ago. I’ve had to settle down recently to avoid affecting my studies. I play a Level 80 human elementalist and can’t see myself creating any more characters in the near future. At the moment, my goals are to reach 100% map completion and finish off my personal story. I still enjoy getting involved with the life stories though! I can’t compare it to other games of the same type, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my GW2 experience so far and it is more than worth the amount I paid.

Final Fantasy XIII

Pic from duose

I bought this yesterday. As a university student in the UK, I am currently home for the holidays which means I have access to my brothers PS3. I have never played a Final Fantasy game and can’t wait to try one. I’ll probably do a review when I finish it, but from what I heard that can take a while. 

Monday, 31 March 2014

PAYDAY 2 Review

Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Payday 2. In the simplest of words, Payday 2 is a co-op crime simulator. Created by Overkill Software, it’s the sequel of Payday: The Heist (don’t worry, you do not need to have played the first!). In the majority of missions you play the part of a robber on a team of four (play with friends, online or with the unbearably terrible game AI) and you work together to pull of a heist. There are varying levels of difficulty and rewards in proportion to the risk involved and the player uses Crimenet, and in game network, to bring up an interactive map of available missions. You start off most in what they call “casing mode”. You’re a regular guy just walking around trying the gauge the situation and you aren’t allowed to start any “suspicious activity”. This is great because you can scope where security cameras, safe/loot locations and guards are as well as just getting an overall look at the map. There isn’t a wide variety of missions (just 11, I think) but they are dynamic, meaning guards, safes and other loot will be in different locations each time. Additionally, if you do get bored, you can always up the difficulty and climb the criminal ladder. But remember, as you increase difficulty, you also increase the chances of encountering “special enemies”. This includes the dreaded Cloakers, whom you can hear from quite far away but won’t notice their presence until it’s too late. Trust me, once you play it, you’ll know just how rage inducing they can be.

The skill tree outlines four different classes the player can specialise in: mastermind, technology, ghost and enforcer. From what I’ve read, it’s much more detailed than first games’ skill system and is comparable to an RPG game levelling system.

Mastermind – the ability to persuade police and/or civilians to assist in the crime
Technology – you get explosives and sentry guns
Ghost – the ability to disable security systems and sneak better
Enforcer – use heavier equipment and carry bags with ease (they tend to slow you down, a lot)

I’ve gone with technology because who doesn’t want sentry guns and I am truly awful at stealth. As you can see in the picture below, you can customise your character. However, you can’t just keep spending money and get all the best mods straight away. At the end of each mission there is a ball-under-the-cup style randomised lottery where you receive cash or unlock a weapon mod, custom colours or, the highly coveted, masks. I was incredibly lucky that the first mask I got just happened to be the one I wanted. You might also notice the two different types of funds (offshore account and cash). Your offshore account is for purchasing contracts off crimenet and the cash is for buying masks/weapons/weapon mods etc.

Getting down to the main parts of this article, it is definitely a game that is only as good as the people you bring into it with you. The single player mode is in a state that can only be referred to as beyond broken. Playing on your own, especially as a beginner, really limits how much loot you can afford to take and the AI is not much help (from what I can tell, the AI offers little help other than the occasional shooting). It’s important that you collaborate well with the people you’ve chosen to play with, I have only so far played with my friends and communication is key to stay on top of things. It requires good resource management skills to get the best results, but nowadays most games do and that’s part of what makes it so challenging and fun.
Visually, it’s not the best game out there and more often than not, you’ll find police half in walls or have bodies in unrealistic positions. Though I think the sound design really makes up for it. They have done a great job matching music the match the pace of the game (in tense times, it gets awesome) and it still features the regular rifle fire that is a must in any first person shooter. I am enjoying the game but I would not pay the £24.99 asking price on Steam. It goes down in every sale, with the lowest price being ~£8 and I think that’s much more fitting. I haven't played any of the dlc yet so that might change my mind on some points.

Pros: sound design, great with friends, challenging at times, good play-to-gain upgrades system, easy to drop in and out of play

Cons: Single player mode, disappointing AI, visuals, not much variety in missions, price

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Review

A picture of me clearly deep into the game and not posing for this photo...

I’m going to kick off my very first game review by talking about Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Developed by Starbreeze studios, Brothers is a single player action-adventure 3d platformer. Set in a Nordic inspired world, the game revolves around the two Brothers journeying to a distant land in hopes of finding a cure for their father’s life-threatening illness. What’s interesting to note is that this is communicated to you with very little dialogue, and what few words are spoken, are voiced in a gibberish language. This is executed remarkably well in that it really allows the player to “fill in the blanks” and really project how they think the character is feeling into the game.

To navigate, each Brother is controlled simultaneously and independently using each of the two analog sticks on the player’s controller. It’s a questionable scheme that involves a lot of criss-crossing, running into walls and general confusion – a sort of similar sensation to trying to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time. It could describe it as a “single player co-op game”. The Brothers each have their own unique interactions with the world around them that really show off their individual personalities and thus further emotionally attaching the player to these characters.  

The gameplay incorporates simple puzzles and linear exploration that would only take a short glance to realise what you need to do or where you need to go - A lot of lever pulling and ledge shuffling. The difficulty comes from the players own ability to control the characters as they heavily rely on each other throughout the game. For example, you learn very quickly that the younger of the brothers is unable to swim but can squeeze between tight bars.

Nevertheless, the gameplay just serves as a complimentary feature to the story itself. Though the puzzles are sometimes mind-numbingly simple, it’s the emotional response they elicit that keeps the player going.  It’s a dysphoric tale that is told with heart, grace and a great attention to detail. The Brothers travels take you through caves, castles, dark forests, arctic rivers and a surprising change of tone for the dark.

Pictures from store.steampowered.com
It delivers a disappointingly short 3-4 hour experience so I highly recommend playing it all in one go and offers no replay value. I’m not sure it’s worth the £11.99 price tag on the Steam Store so it’s worth waiting until the next sale like I did. Also, the tear inducing ending bugged out for me, some textures failed to load, which caused me more annoyance than the intended emotion. However, it offers a beautiful tale with bewitching environments and a unique control scheme to keep the player on their toes.  I’m not too sure on how to end a review like this, so he’s the pros and cons:

Pros: Endearing characters, emotional storyline, bewitching scenery, unique gameplay, goats

Cons: Disappointingly short, relatively simple puzzles, high price, no replay value

Sunday, 26 January 2014

January Loot Crate Unboxing

Guess what? It's that time of the month again! Not sure what a Loot Crate is? Here, read my December unboxing post. This months theme was "Launch" and they actually sent a Loot Crate into space, which is pretty cool. You can check that video out here.  I wasn't sure what to expect because this months crate was a slightly different shape to usual :p but lets see...

In the middle is the Loot Crate magazine which comes in every crate, basically just to tell you where the stuff in the crate came from and also some quirky articles and pictures. On the left, we have a Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide, from Lucasfilm & Randomhouse. Though I am still yet to see any Star Wars films, it's still kinda funny. "Can you repair this?" in droid translates to "Four equal-pitch buzzes" and I'm not even gonna attempt to write down any of the Wookie stuff! On the right, there's something from Star Wars Pocket Model TCG, by Lucasfilm and Wizkids. Now this is a TCG I can get along with. MTG and Yu Gi Oh have got it all wrong because this TCG includes the ability to assemble your own fleet. In every packet, you can look forward to 4-8 pocket models and 6 game cards. I'll be learning how to play that for my next LAN party with my fellow looters!

In top top left, you can see the "Meatball" Nasa Emblem Patch from, well, NASA. This is really, really awesome, I have a few patches already that I'm going to one day transfer onto my denim jacket. I can already tell this will look great next to my Charizard badge :p. I couldn't tell you too much about NASA but I've been to the Kennedy Space Centre three times and that's always a must for when I visit Florida! Plus its probably the only place you could sit me down on a 45 min tour bus and I wouldn't complain.

Then there's my "official looter" card. I think they're being a bit quiet about that because I honestly have no idea if it actually means anything?! Hopefully somethings gonna come soon where it actually becomes relevant. 

Then a couple stickers, a Rubiks wall graphic from Rubiks and Walls360 (which is very fitting because that's how it's likely to end up if anyone were ever to give me one to solve :p) and a Star Trek Communicator Badge from CBS and Walls360. Star Wars is something I used to watch with my dad when I was younger. By watch, I mean he'd put it on and I'd whine until it was over and I could watch cartoons. But in doing that, I've actually watched quite a few episodes and it's mostly pretty cool. I really love the new films with Chris Pine as Kirk, but one day I hope to go back and watch the TNG again or something!

Look how cute he is! Look. At. The. Cute! They sell these Funko Pop models at pretty much every con I've been to but I've never wanted one before. Now that I have one, they're actually really cute and will make a great addition to my nerd shelf. In England, you're best chance of getting them is probably either any convention or Forbidden Planet. Kinda gutted I didn't get Domo Superman, but regular Superman is also pretty cool.

I like to leave the best until last. It may not have been the most expensive but here's a Minecraft 2014 16-month calendar. If you know me, you might wonder why I say "best" when I've never actually played Minecraft before. That is true - but I do love the Yogscast and Simon Honeydew and Lewis play Minecraft and they do it hilariously. I feel like it would be something I would get too obsessed with too quickly (*ahem* GW2) and I would have no friends to play with at LANs. It looks like a great game and I will never tire of watching Yogscast Minecraft episodes! If you're like me and haven't played but do wanna just watch someone else play and see what's possible, I definitely recommend checking out the Yogscast (especially series like Minecraft Diversity and The Dropper - just to ease you in).

Well that's another month wrapped up. I was considering cancelling again but next month is gonna involve one, maybe two pieces of apparel. I can't say no to that, their t shirt choices are amazing! If you wanna nab yourself a Loot Crate of your own, check them out here

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Geo Tri Color Green Lense Review

Here I am modelling the lovely Geo Tri Color Green Lenses from Pinky Paradise. Please excuse my face and wonktastical teeth! Now, they look awesome. I'm not gonna lie, irl they look really damn awesome. Great striking colour over my naturally dark brown/hazel eyes. Lovely big circle style with a nice pattern. 

Here's the bad part. They were a pain to put in and they were just so uncomfortable. In comparison to my G&G violet lenses, they took about 15 minutes for me to put and my eyes just watered and watered - I've already reached that point where you wear lenses regularly enough that they don't really water. On top of that, I didn't want to keep them in. You could really feel them in your eyes and it was just painful. I went shopping today, had them in for half an hour or so whilst I did my make up and I had to decide whether I would actually be able to keep them in all day or if I'll be rushing to a mirror as soon as I could to peel them out. I even checked in case there was any dust or something stuck on them first, but no. I even took one out, cleaned it and put it back. I am thoroughly disappointed, because I really liked the way they looked and my last paid of green lenses kinda dried up (oops!). 

Overall, its 5/5 for looks but only if you plan on wearing them for a very, very short amount of time. I will definitely give them another shot but if they still feel the same, I'll be purchasing a G&G pair! 

To end on a positive note, I played around a bit with my eye makeup today. I don't usually go for ticks but today I went for a dark tick and lined the crease (which you can't really see in these pictures!). All the colours have come straight from my Naked 1 palette <3. I feel like I look a bit more asian when I line my eyes a bit more :p 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Revision Tips

As I sit here and take funny pictures of myself in the middle of my exam period, I realise I do really need to re-evaluate my priorities. On the other hand, surely it is okay to blog so long as its something relevant.... So huzzah! Revision tips! Theses are just things that work for me and don't necessarily work for everyone so fair enough if you completely disagree.

1. Pictures. Fricken pictures. Put. Them. Everywhere. 
I'm sure you've all heard of the great Sherlock Holmes, and some (like me) might be a massive fan off the BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch. But, have you ever wondered how he can retain so much information? Does the term "mind palace" ring a bell? Well, that's where he stores it. I've read a lot about mind palaces and recently watched a really interesting Ted talk by a guy who won the memory championships (please note: this is probably not the correct name). And back onto topic, the best way to remember things is to illustrate them with pictures. The more unusual, the more memorable they are! I write things in funny text or try and illustrate parts of the words.

2. Concentration music
No, not that sort of music you enjoy and you're likely to get wrapped up belting out lyrics to (Looking at you Frozen OST). I'm talking about calming, concentration music. Literally just type "concentration music" into Youtube and you'll find millions of songs. There's also 8tracks which my friends use. My preference is sounds and rain/streams/water together, so peaceful. Or gaming soundtracks - Harvest Moon B2N and Bastion have great instrumentals. It really does block out background sounds that distract your brain!

3. Shorten your notes.
I tend to write notes from lecture slides then keep shortening and shortening until your left with a couple of A4 sheets of paper filled with colour pictures and the occaisonal word. That's the best way I can really indent it into my brain. 

4. Reward yourself.
This is my favourite one. Go on, give yourself a pat on the back. Or head, whatever you're into, I don't judge. Even if you get a small amount done, that's a hell of a lot better than the student that hasn't started at all. I tend to do one weeks worth of notes then give myself half an hour on the internet. Yeah I know it's a very long break but I get distracted easily and I do long periods of revision rather than cram it in in one go. 

5. Perspective: put everything into it.
Look at the big picture, that might help you de-stress yourself. I get really anxious around exam time and it does help. Don't let the smallest of things get you down!

I think that's it from me, there's not that much to it. I have had so many exams now that I know what works for me and that's everything. Good luck if you're currently going through the same things I am! 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Christmas Beauty Favourites

As the title suggests, these are my favourite beauty buys that I received for Christmas :) Starting with this blush compact from Urban Decay.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you must have heard of the sucess of the Naked range from Urban Decay. Now I know everyone knows of their eyeshadow palettes, but I hadn't seen this cute compact! It's a bronzer, highlighter and blush threesome. I have used it practically every day since Christmas and love the colours. I also got Benefits High Beam highlighter but I haven't given that nearly as much attention as this one. The blush is a really vibrant colour so you needn't use a heavy amount.

On this product, I use the term favourite loosely. I haven't used it enough to decide whether it is my favourite primer at the moment (currently awarded to Bare Minerals' Prime Time) but it does feel lovely on my skin. I've found that you have to use a little bit more than you would have to with other primers to cover your face (maybe that's just me?) and it's quite expensive in the first place... I'll have to keep using it and report back.

I finally got my hands on the Real Techniques brushes! They're much cheaper if you buy the sets and on Amazon, they were about 12-15 a set - which is a great deal less than instore boots. I love the buffing brush and most of the eyeshadow brushes but the pointed foundation brush is a little on the small side and you wouldn't want to do your whole face with it. Also the eyebrow brush is more chunky than I'm used to so it's not great if you like sharp brows. Other than that, they were very good for the price and I'm happy overall.

In other news, I watched Frozen for the first time, and it was truly beautiful. The outfits, the characters, the songs! I was worried it would be too similar to Tangled but other than the style of animation, the stories are quite different. Tangled holds a very dear space in my heart and I'm glad they didn't completely rip it off. I'm not going to lie and I don't want to spoil it but there are some similarities but the most dissimilar thing has gotta be the two non-villainous female leads. It's great to see Anna and Elsa's relationship throughout the story and watch them grow together. If I could pull off Elsa or Anna, I would totally cosplay them!