Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Review

 2013 Review

This is well, WELL, overdue. I normally finish this by the end of the year, but partially due to internet issues this has been delayed. I have also slightly shortened his to just cover my top films and games of the year will little else in the way of details... anyway...

Another year and another yearly review. So without further introductions:


Top 3 films of 2013


This is my top film of the year and I’m hoping that it is also recognized come the Oscars in 2014, as it certainly deserves all the awards that can be thrown at it.

In the past I have been very wary of 3D films, but some film have recently (whilst not completely) slightly converted me, and Gravity is one of the very best uses of 3D in cinema. It is a very simple and short film, but watching it in the cinema (even our pitiful local cinema) was breathtaking.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

This seems to be a bit of a surprising entry into my top 3 films of the year, especially in view of the fact that I had a lukewarm response to the first film. This second film was, in my opinion, head and shoulders above the original.

It was an extremely dark film for a 12a rated film, prompting me to ask my son (age 10) on several occasions if he was ok during the first half of the film. It also tackled my very current issues surprisingly well, whilst still remaining a very entertaining film.

Django Unchained

It took me an age to watch this, after numerous failed attempts to watch it. In the end it was worth the wait, and is not only a great Tarantino film, but also a great Western as well. I just hope that Tarantino directs yet another western next (as he has recently indicated), as Hollywood needs more westerns of this calibre.


Top 3 games on 2012

Persona 4: Golden

This was my first introduction to the Persona series and since playing this I have also now played Persona 3 portable (PSP) and also have Persona 2 to play at some point. Persona 5 (when eventually released) is also now one of my most anticipated games, despite knowing next to anything at all about it. That probably gives and indication of how much I am now taken by the series.

The fact that the series is based in a Japanese High School during a standard school year and not the typical Fantasy/Sci-Fi setting sets this apart from most RPG's. I also think that the mixture between the persona collection (which has similarities to Pokemon) and typical JRPG gameplay is genius and compelling.

A fantastic game the gripped me from beginning to end.

Fire Emblem: Awakening

I love the Advance Wars games (also from Intelligence Systems), but had never played any of the Fire Emblem games prior to this. I am now a convert. This is now my most played game on the 3DS (ignoring Animal Crossing – but that has been played more by Roz than me), with over 80 hours put into this.

A fantastic strategy game with a surprising marriage mechanic, which ensure that you do not want to let any characters die under any circumstances, and also due to the fact that time travel is involved, means that you get to see how the offspring of your characters turns out, who can also be called into the scenario.

The Last of Us

The Uncharted games from Naughty Dog have always been great, but it is good to see an original property from this game developer.

It could be easy to quickly consider this as an average post apocalyptic adventure that you see so often in games, but it is the relationships in the game and the bleak and desperate management of resources, together with the scrabble to survive which elevates this.

The best game on the PS3 during the year and very possible the best game overall during the year.

I really need to find some time to play through this another time before the first story DLC is released (which is a must buy)

Notable mentions:

Super Mario 3D World
A joy to play, and very almost made it into my top 3.

Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag
I didn’t like AC3, but this is a completely different kettle of fish (and whales and sharks). The best game so far on my PS4.

Remember Me
A game from my PS+ subscription which really surprised me.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

A great throwback to A Link to the Past

Note: Posted as 31/12/13 - but finalised much later than this

Friday, December 27, 2013

Most anticipated games of 2014 (and beyond)

Most anticipated games of 2014 (and beyond)

So here we are again, at this time of year I like to think ahead to the coming year (and perhaps beyond), to games which are on the horizon which I am looking forward to and then list these in order to determine my most anticipated games.

Starting from 10 to 1:

10. Watch Dogs (Multi)

I like many others was amazed by the demonstration of this back in E3 of 2012, and for me this was the reason for a next-gen system. It was somewhat of a disappointment that this was pushed back at the last minute from the launch of the next-gen systems.

I’m hoping that the delay allows them to shine up a good game into a truly great game.

9. Final Fantasy XV (Multi)

The game previously known as Final Fantasy XIII Versus.

This looks to be quite the departure from the Final Fantasy formula, not that I think that this is a bad thing. My feelings are that Final Fantasy has lost its touch since Final Fantasy IX (with Final Fantasy XII being the exception to this – but I know that many people feel differently to me on this).

I just hope that the gameplay is on par with the striking cinematics!

8. Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

This is still a bright spark in the announced games for the Wii U and it can’t come out soon enough. I’m just hoping that Nintendo can be persuaded to arrange for the original Bayonetta to also be released for the Wii U, a double bundle would be especially nice.

7. Infamous: Second Son (PS4)

Two of my favourite games from the previous generation were Infamous and its sequel and as such, I am excited to see how the next game shapes up on the PS4. The brief snippets shown so far have been very promising and seeing as it is due out in March 2014, there isn’t too much of a wait.

6. Monolith X game (WiiU)

I was a huge fan of Xenoblade and firmly believe that it was the best RPG of the prior generation and also one of the best games on the Wii. It’s one failing was that the graphics of the Wii did not meet the scope of the game, and this looks to be rectified by the next game by Monolith which is due out on the Wii U and as such can benefit from HD resolution.

From what has been shown so far, this looks to have similar elements to Xenoblade, but also involve mechs that you can control (rather than them being solely the antagonists of the previous game).

5. Uncharted 4 (PS4)

So far very little has been shown of this game, but every game that has come out of Naughty Dog the last 7 years has been absolute genius and I’m really looking forward to next-gen entry into this fantastic series.

Based solely on the previous output, this has made it to number 5.

4. Persona 5 (PS3)

Next to nothing has been shown of this game and it has in fact only just been officially announced, with a release date (in Japan at least) of the end of 2014.

During 2013 I have just started to get into the Persona games, having played both Persona 3 and Persona 4: Golden during the year, and it has to be said that they are now amongst my favourite JRPG’s going.

It’s a bit of a shame that they are being released solely on PS3 and not next gen systems, as there is a fear that by the time that it is released that it may be ignored because of this (which is effectively what happened to Persona 4 on release).

3. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (Multi)

The fact that this has been split between The Phantom Pain and Ground Zero’s has meant that my anticipation of this game has dropped slightly (I hate it when they purposely split films in half to make more money, e.g. Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2, and the same applies to games).

As a fan of the series, I’m still looking forward to this coming out on PS4 and will likely (price dependant) end up buying both entries. There is no doubt in my mind, that this is looking to be a fantastic game (or 2 games)

2. Mario Kart 8 (WiiU)

I have always been a very big fan of the Mario Kart series and Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS is the pinnacle so far. There may have been numerous other kart racers released, but nothing has ever matched the precision and the playability of the Mario Kart series.

I’m also proud of the fact that this is the one game that I can put my hand on heart and state that I am truly good at. There may be other players out there that are better than me, but I think that in general, this is one game series where I am amongst the better players.

What I have seen so far of Mario Kart 8 seems to suggest a slight blend with the F-Zero series, which is fine with me considering that Nintendo seems to have otherwise ignored this series since the Gamecube days. Overall, this looks cracking so far and I’m really looking forward to this.

1. The Last Guardian (PS4 - probably)

This game has been on my list of most anticipated games for 4 years previous to this (at times at the very top of the list). Recent hints have suggested that this may be moving to the PS4, which makes sense as I believe that the game was likely too ambitious for the PS3.

The sense of mystery as to what the hell is happening to this game has only heightened my interest. Surely this has to come out by the end of 2014!

I have nagging doubt that the end result may not live up to the anticipation of this game, but considering the fact that both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus were two of the finest games ever conceived (in my opinion) this has a lot riding on it.

Other games which I am interested in, which did not make the list:

Fire Emblem Vs Shin Megami Tensei (WiiU)
Mirror’s Edge (Multi)
Disgaea 4 Vita (PSVita)
Half Life 2: Episode 3 / Half Life 3 (Multi – hopefully)
Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright (3DS)
The Division (Multi)
The Order:1886 (PS4)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscar predictions - my results

Unlike previous years, I don't think that I'll post all of the Oscar result (after all these are readily available just about everywhere).

What I will confirm, however, our how my predictions went:

Predictions correct: 12

Predictions incorrect: 9

As such, this give me a total of a 57% success ratio. Better than 50%, which I always aim for, but it still could have been better..

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Changes to predictions

Just a very brief post to state that I have made 3 slight changes to my Oscar predictions this year, which are reflected in the previous post. Both the changed prediction, and that made by me previously have been shown.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oscar Predictions 2013

Well here they are!

Only a few more weeks to find out how right or wrong I am...

Best Motion Picture of the Year




I cannot get around the fact that I believe that Lincoln was a terrible film and as such I have gone with my gut on this and changed my prediction. Although I have not seen Argo, it is likely the film after Lincoln that is likely to win and as such, I have gone with this.


Lincoln (2012): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

I really, really want Les Miserables to win best picture, but as much as I want this to happen, I have to face the facts that this is unlikely to happen. Unfortunately, Les Miserables has somewhat of a Marmite effect, it’s something that you either really like, or just don’t get at all. The audience who have enjoyed the stage musical seem to have taken to it, but I don’t think that it has had a big enough impression (in America at least) in order to secure a win.

Argo, probably has a chance, but the Director snub goes against this, Zero Dark Thirty also has a chance, but the controversy around the depiction of torture goes against this.

Ultimately, seeing as this is an America ceremony, I think that this will go to Lincoln (despite my thoughts on the film).

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role


Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (2012)

Although I didn’t like Lincoln, there’s no doubting that Daniel-Day-Lewis did a great job in it and I think that he is going to make it a hat-trick (pun intended).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role


Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

There is a chance that Jessica Chastain may get this (and in my opinion would be the person I would give this to for her performance in Zero Dark Thirty), but there seems to be a lot of Hollywood love for Jennifer Lawrence these last 2 years, and I see this going to her.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role


Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln (2012)

There is a slight chance that this may go to Christoph Waltz, but I’m betting on Tommy Lee Jones, who was one of the few redeeming elements of Lincoln.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role


Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables (2012)

If this goes to anyone else, it will be a crime of epic proportions.

Best Achievement in Directing


Steven Spielberg for Lincoln (2012)

Although I don’t believe that it is deserved (for Lincoln at least), I think that this is Spielberg’s.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen


Django Unchained (2012): Quentin Tarantino

This is between Amour, Django and Zero Dark Thirty. I’m betting on Django Unchained, because as much as Hollywood are sometimes wary of Tarantino as a director, they often respect his writing skills.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published




in view of the fact that I have changed my best picture prediction, I have also amended this category as well.


Life of Pi (2012): David Magee

Both Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook are probably the frontrunners here, but I think the fact that Life of Pi is a higher regarded book, and also the fact that this was a good adaptation may go in its favour.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year


Wreck-It Ralph (2012): Rich Moore

This is a very tough one to call. I would love this to go to The Pirates, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this might go to Wreck-It-Ralph.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year


Amour (2012)(Austria)

As this is the only foreign film which is in the best film category as well, this is pretty much a given in my eyes.

Best Achievement in Cinematography


Life of Pi (2012): Claudio Miranda

I would be disappointed if this went to anything other than Life of Pi in this category.

Best Achievement in Editing


Zero Dark Thirty (2012): William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor

Logic would predict that this goes to Lincoln (as it is often the case that editing also goes with best picture), but I think/hope it will go to Zero Dark Thirty instead.

Best Achievement in Production Design


Life of Pi (2012): David Gropman, Anna Pinnock

Again I think this will go to Life of Pi.

Best Achievement in Costume Design


Anna Karenina (2012/I): Jacqueline Durran

Elaborate costume drama = likely win for Anna Karenina.

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012): Peter King, Rick Findlater, Tami Lane

Lots of beards and fake noses makes this a likely win.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score


Skyfall (2012): Thomas Newman

I’m probably going to be wrong on this one, an alternative would be Life of Pi, but maybe Hollywood will fall for the Bond anniversary...

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song


Skyfall (2012): Adele, Paul Epworth("Skyfall")

In any other year I would have gone with Les Miserables, but Suddenly was a comparably weak unnecessary song. Skyfal, however, is the best Bond theme in some time and pretty much everyone loves Adele, so this it is.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing


Les Misérables (2012): Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Simon Hayes

The use of live performances probably clinches this for Les Mis.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing


Skyfall (2012): Per Hallberg, Karen M. Baker

A tough call between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty, but I’ll go wit Skyfall.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects


Life of Pi (2012): Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik De Boer, Donald Elliott

The easy prediction for this would be The Avengers (in view of its popularity), but I did not feel that it did anything special with its visual effects. For Life of Pi, however, they were integral to the story and used in such a fantastic way, that I think that this is most deserving the award.

Best Documentary, Features


No prediction made as I do not know enough about the nominees.

Best Documentary, Short Subjects


No prediction made as I do not know enough about the nominees.

Best Short Film, Animated




After seeing this before Wreck It Ralph, I have changed my prediction to this, which was absolutely fanatstic.


The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare (2012): David Silverman

I’m probably going to be wrong on this one, but I loved this short so much that I have to include it as my prediction!

Best Short Film, Live Action


No prediction made as I do not know enough about the nominees.