Jupiter Ascending review

Sci fi movies have come a long way in the industry with technical advances being their most notorious enhancements as years go by. The Wachowskis are no strangers to the genre, as their most successful film to date confirms it (aka The Matrix). Jupiter Ascending, as the latest installment from the dynamic duo, raised some expectancy since it’s unveiling. Perhaps it was the fact that a female protagonist would take the lead in a space opera or that recalling what the Wachowskis once created in this field could mean good news. Now, coming back to real life, what we get to see in the theatre is everything but good news as Jupiter Ascending, as a whole, acts as nothing but a terrible fusion of Matrix and Star Wars with an extremely cheesy love story set in space and some utterly inconsistent acting.

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis, The Black Swan) is a girl that cleans toilets for a living (although she looks quite tidy to believe it) along her Russian family and totally hates the life that has been bestowed upon her. Suddenly, she notices some weird activity in the house that turn out to be aliens. As these creatures try to kidnap her for reasons that are unknown by her, a space ranger named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher) comes in to rescue her and take her to safety on a planet where she learns that there’s a vast number of life forms outside home and that The Abrasax family is the most powerful dynasty in the universe and, hence, owns most of the planets in the universe, including Earth. What is most shocking for Jupiter, regardless, is knowing that she is actually the current descendant of the last formal owner of the Earth, therefore, the real heir in line. Balem (Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth), who are the current children of The Abrasax House, can’t stand that fate and are willing to kill her, no matter the cost.

During the first 20 minutes of the film it’s actually difficult to keep a pace with the screenplay, as the story fluctuates from place to place way a lot resulting in many confusing points to the viewer that don’t make any sense until later on. Likewise, during the moments when the story starts having an interesting approach, it quickly deteriorates one way or another. In addition, most of the time the story diverts from the action sequences to focus on one of the cheesiest, senseless romances I have seen in the last years. Jupiter is so desperate for love that one can’t help laughing at her flirting skills, and even more at how she actually succeeds.

It was good to know that at least the movie was quite a sight for sore eyes since the visual effects are sincerely impressive. Even if they might remind some of Star Wars stuff, it’s definitely the one thing the Wachowskis did right with Jupiter Ascending. All the special effects are not overwhelming, in fact, they are quite pleasant to watch and it pays tribute very well to the improvements of science fiction in movies. They are quite good on their own, however, the scrip relies a little too much on them at times that it definitely doesn’t help the story either.

Special mention to the totally inconsistent acting, as well. Mila Kunis has its good times here and there but as quickly as she has them is the way she loses them, especially in the moments of great tense, as she seems to “relax” very easily. Channing Tatum doesn’t really offer anything to the flick. He has all the time this cold attitude and, even if that is kind of justified in his background story, he is far from memorable. Finally, there are villains that the fans love to hate but the one chosen for this movie will definitely not fit that description. Balem has many quotes that imply he has a very dark heart but every time he appears on the screen it’s just impossible to take him seriously. It’s just a relief that Eddie Redmayne will not have less fans because of this after witnessing his immense talent in The Theory of Everything.

Jupiter Ascending is quite a setback for the Wachowski brothers in almost every sense of the word. Their latest attempt at the sci fi genre is not exactly delivering good results due to the incoherent oscillations in the story that make it hard to understand at the beginning and a little boring at the end. The special effects might be the only redeemable element in this whole space odyssey. If I had to describe this movie in one sentence it would be: an extremely cheesy television soap opera brought to space, since it really doesn’t offer anything else worth watching.

4 stars

Rating: 4/10 stars

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Trailer:

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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword In-depth Review

Warning: Major Spoiler Alert

If there’s somebody that can keep innovating the same franchise for many generations that’s of course, Nintendo. SS is the 16th iteration of the Zelda series and comes as one of the last games that will bid farewell to the Nintendo Wii. Let me tell you, there couldn’t be a better game to do this job because it’s the perfect cherry of the cake as it takes full advantage of everything the Wii had to offer. It’s hands down the best Wii game of all time and can probably be ranked as one of the best Zelda games of all time, as well.

Story

SS’s story is special firstly because it is meant to be the very first chronological title in the official timeline and how well it serves the function of its 15 sequels but at the same time how it manages to make you feel Link in a way no other game in the series has done before. The game is set on Skyloft, a remnant town in the sky which is what is left of The Surface before the bad guys attacked and took control of the whole land. It follows the very first journey of the very first Link that made a step in Hyrule in his quest to save Zelda from his kidnapper, Ghirahim, as the latter is willing to use her as a sacrifice to resurrect his master. For this Link will have to become the very first man to return to the cursed Surface.

You can’t help growing fond of this Link in particular because, as mentioned before, he is the first hero to actually be “a chosen one”. We are used to see every new and veteran Link be so skillful with his trusted weapons from the very beginning and witness everybody praise him for the instant hope he brings to the lands. However, that’s not the case here. This Link is NOT just another incarnation, he has no hero of legend running through his veins. He might be a natural with the sword, shield and Loftwings but it seems he wasn’t definitely ready for this kind of odyssey. This is more noticeable when Impa shows her disappointment after thinking the Goddess might have made a mistake in choosing her hero after being late “again” to save Zelda. I just couldn’t avoid feeling sad for Link when I saw the look on his face after hearing those words. This Link is green as grass and his quest to be the very first Hero of Hyrule is extremely memorable, being rescuing her special one his only motivation.

Which takes us to… Zelda. In this game, she is not a princess yet, she doesn’t even plan to become one someday. She is just an ordinary pretty girl that has never been so charismatic before. Her big, happy heart and relationship with Link is the strongest we have seen to date. As it has happened in other games before it, Link and Zelda are best friends since childhood but it’s the first time we have the chance to see them both taking a more romantic approach toward each other. Even if they don’t kiss or confess their love for one another there’s no doubt how cute they look together. Link’s desperation and, later on, conviction to rescue her and that final gaze at the Bokoblins prior to the final battle with Ghirahim just reflects how Link will not let anything stop him.

All this hero’s thing is made with the help of Fi, who probably is hand in hand with Navi and Midna as one of the most memorable sidekicks Link has had. She catches everybody’s eye since the beginning for being the spirit inside the Master Sword. She has an extremely robotic personality, because that’s what she was created for, but as the story progresses, she starts learning from Link’s emotions, and starts developing her own. It was nice that the game did NOT directly make you be aware of that, but rather let you notice it by your own as Fi’s conversations begin to be more emotional every time. And her last goodbye is definitely touching.

It’s also noteworthy to mention the main villains: Ghirahim and his master, Demise. Ghirahim is portrayed as a villain we would love to hate, and it’s true. He is a unique antagonist in all Zelda games and his moves makes him a formidable rival to Link. Demise, on the other hand, resulted as an amazing way to tell Ganondorf’s REAL roots. There’s no hint in the whole game that some Ganon’s ancestor would be the bad guy (there’s always one if he is) and the fact that they kept it that way until we, by our own eyes with no in-game mention, encounter him in the final battle makes it a shocking discovery.

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The great story of the only Link destined to become a man by himself, his endearing relationship with Zelda as no other game before it, and the utterly likeable characters as a whole wins this game a perfect 10 in Story.

Gameplay

Another great factor that makes the game so immersive is the motion controllers. Thanks to this game, being a swashbuckler has never felt so real and Wii has never been more fun before. SS is the game that takes advantage of the full capabilities of the Wiimote and the Motion Plus because Link’s arm will follow every direction you swing your controller to. The best part of this comes when you find all those enemies that block your moves from, say, the right side of their bodies, so you will need to attack them from the other side. As the story progresses, more original enemies will appear and it will make you replan your strategy. But the cool thing is that not only the Master Sword is the one that takes all the glory, but also your whole arsenal. There are two ways you can control your Bow and Arrow. The casual way, to use the pointer and press A to shoot, or the “immersive” way to hold both Nunchuk and Wiimote as an actual Bow and Arrow. I called it immersive way because it is actually a lot of fun to try it that way, especially with Boss Tentallus, who requires an arrow in the eye to give you a chance to finish him.

As for how the game is structured we still have to go to dungeons and fight boss battles inside and all the stuff we know about Zelda. However, the temples were actually very original, so different. Lanayru’s Mine Facility is probably the coolest because of how you have to make use of the TimeShift Stones to travel to the past and solve puzzles that way. Still, I would have liked Nintendo to put a temple in the sky as well. I know the final temple is in the sky but it doesn’t feel… sky-ish. It would have been awesome to have one that truly made us remember we were in the sky, like City in the Sky from Twilight Princess. But it’s something minor, it definitely don’t affect the rest of the game.

The boss battles are actually quite fun to fight. I liked battling The Imprisoned every single time he has awaken again with his new limbs and ability to fly. He was totally the hardest boss in the game for me, especially with my stamina running out and having to make use of the potions to run without getting tired. Yet, my favorite boss has to be Koloktos, from Ancient Cistern. It just felt so cool to grab his own weapon and smash him to death. And the fact that you can fight all the bosses in challenging new modes with Lanayru is an exciting training mode that requires all your Zelda skills!

To finish with this, it’s true, sometimes the controllers are not that responsive and you have to hold them always in one direction. The shield also has hard times to respond. However. There’s no doubt that Skyward Sword is the game that manages to deliver everything the Wii wanted to offer since the very beginning. It is definitely what the utter successor of Twilight Princess in terms of gameplay.  For that reason and the constant fun with enemies and boss battles, Gameplay receives an outstanding score of 9.

Atmosphere

Apart from the story, what makes Skyward Sword be so immersive is its art style. There was controversy about that decision. The team behind it even admitted they had planned to make it as dark as TP, but instead drew upon this one because the story was more suitable for it. Many will complain but it is one of the great distinctive factors that makes this a beautiful sight for sore eyes. It definitely is like a painting brought to life. It definitely doesn’t have any “childish” attributes because even the music has a great a role every time a relaxing or tense situation is there. I loved the first time I saw Fi. Her theme is so beautiful and it made that situation feel like a spiritual encounter with some random entity. The Gate of Time’s theme is one of the most beautiful Zelda theme’s I have heard because it reflected the sadness and worry Impa feels regarding Demise and how we have to build up enough courage to keep fighting.

When it comes to the world itself, we still have Hyrule (although they really don’t call it Hyrule just yet) and we have the same locations that are present in the other Zelda games, but, instead of an evolved area, it’s a primitive look at them. Faron Woods, Eldin Volcano and Lanayru Desert all serve as what Hyrule was before any other time. The fun thing is that we travel in time to see everything before it became Gerudo Fortress, Lake Hylia, Death Mountain and so on, although no real connection is established in-game. However, there’s something in this category that feels it could have been better.

You see that we have two maps: the Surface and the Sky. In the Surface, once you have completed your mission there’s really nothing else to explore, and the sky feels a little empty. There were not many things that made me want to soar the skies because I had almost nothing to discover. Hyrule as a whole is quite enormous but doesn’t make you feel you can explore it. Although the coolest thing about the Sky was probably Biloctyle. That boss fight on top of my Loftwing was amazing and definitely challenging.

The number places you can visit are actually very low and there’s only one real town: Skyloft and there aren’t exactly many side quests. But, still, the story as such doesn’t demand any more things than what it has. The characters are all enjoyable, the romance between Link and Zelda is so charming and visual aspect is simply gorgeous. All these earns him another great 8.5.

Conclusion

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a remarkable game. It is definitely a true innovation in terms of gameplay, the story is more endearing than ever, the art style has an impressive beauty and the music is just gorgeous to the ear. The world doesn’t feel that developed but the story has no need of that to remain authentic. It’s true within my heart that this game can be ranked as one of the best Zelda games ever created.

Rating: 9.2

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Watch_Dogs review

After making a great change in the industry of games with its parkour assassin’s back in 2007, big Ubi wants to repeat its achievement with its first game for both previous and next gen consoles. In its new attempt to bring a fresh, new open-world game, Watch Dogs was born, a game where your phone and hacking skills are vital to fight for what you hold most dear. The premise was simple: to “go beyond the limits of today’s open world games”, according to director Jonathan Morin. Did they manage to achieve their goal? Well, let me tell you… The hacking mechanics is something very original and does make you feel you have the power to control everything. However, that alone does not make it feel entirely unique. There’s something uncomfortably familiar with other games Ubi has released and even some ideas taken from other types of games.

We follow the story of Aiden Pierce, one of the “modern world magicians”, as he likes to call himself due to his hacking skills, in the modern city of Chicago. On a common day in Pierce’s life, he tries to steal some bank accounts with his phone and his friend, Damien. Suddenly, they find another hacker around their area who steals information from them. Concerned about what he might do with that info, Aiden flees with his family (his sister, nephew and niece) but a gang shoots the car which results in a car crash that eventually ends up killing his niece, Lena. He is now willing to fight for his own justice and find the people responsible for the murder.

All this is thanks to the one thing he does best: hacking his way through. The whole game revolves around that idea. Ubi gives you Chicago ran by the operating system ctOS, a phone with practically endless battery (everyone’s dream, right?) and the possibility to access all of the people’s information with the press of a button. It might sound scary in real life, but Watch Dogs makes it feel genuine for completely different gaming mechanics. Everywhere you go in the city of Chicago you will find remote access to cameras, explosives, and every single person’s phone so you can steal money or just have a little fun reading some of his private habits. However, all of it makes sense and becomes your primary weapon when you have to infiltrate some of your enemies’ hideouts. That way you can see through the cameras what is at your surroundings that can be useful, or even detonate some explosives via remotely to annihilate or just distract guards, giving you time to sneak in without making much trouble.

It’s always a lot of fun and there are a lot of ways you can sneak your way in. Nonetheless, if your thing is shooting your way in or out, you can always choose to do that. There are plenty of weapons that can enhance that experience. Now, if you combine those two, everything becomes better. If a guard hears you, you can either find another cover and move around, or hack anything from your surroundings that will catch his attention. There will always be a lot of things. Once you have set up your plan, it’s very much your call whether if you want to kill them or just ignore them. In addition, you will be asked to solve a puzzle once you have finally reached the file you are looking for (because it’s everything about computers) which never gets old. The whole hacking system is always entertaining.

That might be what the game does best but, sadly, it’s not enough to cover the whole thing. Everything else doesn’t exactly deliver a memorable experience. To begin with, the story lacks emotion, suspense, drama, etc. Also, Aiden is by no means a strong character; his personality is too cold. Sometimes it is justified and it is a good thing for the story, but sometimes it just makes him be obsolete. His voice acting doesn’t help, either. The real charm comes from her sister and some of his sidekicks, but they are never around so not many things motivate one to empathize with Aiden.

Making you feel like a real hacker was very pleasant, but the whole world makes you feel, on the other hand, that you have done these things before. There are some side missions that are actually quite original, like trying to find QR codes throughout the city, align them, and find some secret info, but everything else has its roots from Assassin’s Creed, yet, the painful part is how noticeable they are. The map will show you places of interests and collectibles after you have visited a ctOS tower (which acts as your viewpoint). Whenever you approach an enemy area, a message is displayed on the screen as “Warning: you are entering a restricted area”. Finally, right after doing your heroic stuff, it’s very probable that you will end your mission with a car chase, just like most AC games (except for the car).

The car chases are in part entertaining, actually, because even at driving you get access to use the streets as booby traps for whoever is after you. It comes in handy because it is very difficult to disappear from their sight without using the environment, as they are always too close from you.  Albeit, it feels weird that you can’t shoot from the car. I understand it must be already hard enough for Aiden to drive with one hand and have his phone on the other, but when your enemies are shooting at you, and there are no traps around the streets, the situation becomes harder. I found myself crashing at them a lot of times until I had finally killed them. It is practical but, still, something felt empty.

There were also some minor technical issues here and there. They might not be that vital for the game to be tedious but sometimes it becomes annoying. I had many problems with the illumination, as, whenever  I was trying to get out of a building, the game had trouble darkening the effect of the lights, which was a little bit of concern due to the fact that there were enemies outside waiting for me and I couldn’t see anything.

Everybody had a lot of expectations for Watch Dogs, including me. It delivers many good things, like the gameplay system and all the hacking mechanics that give you the power to control the whole city. But, unfortunately, the rest of the elements which the game is composed of don’t really live up to those expectations. The story is nor complex nor memorable and the protagonist doesn’t help much, either, and the world doesn’t have the sensation of being original. If you are more into gameplay, it should be a fun game for you. However, if your thing is the story of a game, you should probably look somewhere else. If you are neutral, you might have fun, but it surely won’t last the whole time.

Rating: 6.8 – Fair

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SpongeBob: Sponge Out Of Water review

It’s been 15 years since the first time Sponge Bob came to life via Nickelodeon and it remains today as one of the favorite cartoons to watch for kids. Since some are very popular, it’s not uncommon that cartoons have their own movie at some point of their lifespan and Sponge Bob has already had its own chance some years ago with Sponge Bob Square Pants: The Movie on 2004, however, Nickelodeon has changed the roles this time a bit to present us a mix of 2D and 3D action that feels at the same time pleasantly familiar with the series yet fresh enough to be a movie while avoiding the mistake many cartoon-based films have of making us think it’s just another episode. Even with all those years of presence, Sponge Out Of Water confirms us that everyone’s favorite resident of a pineapple under the sea has still a long life ahead.

The story of the movie revolves around the same concept as the series but with slightly turn of events. The charming pirate Burge-Beard (Antonio Banderas) has found a mysterious book in a lonely island that will help him leave Bikini Bottom to its doom and steal that which is most sacred in the whole sea: the Krabby Patty secret formula. Meanwhile, everyone enjoys a relaxing day at Bikini Bottom while eating a succulent Krabby Patty that Sponge Bob (Tom Kenny) cooks so well. Plankton (Mr. Lawrence), the series’ main villain, has developed a new plan that makes him able to finally steal the burgers secret formula, only to see it disappear in front of his one eye. Bob is the only one that witnessed Plankton’s lack of guilt and, thanks to that big heart of his, is willing to defend his innocence from Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown), turning both of them into accomplices of the crime forcing them to develop a teamwork to recover the lost formula in a journey that will take them out of the water.

The whole story is rather simple because, after all, it is a cartoon. However, the charming experience of the complete film comes in many different forms. First of all, the new concept of this flick is Sponge Bob’ entrance to the CGI. The way this was done was surprisingly nice and fun to watch, because the movie does a great job by starting with the classic 2D art style and once they are out in our world, they look both real and colorful. Perhaps if everything had been done in CGI, things would have looked very strange to everybody, but since it was not, it brings a new vision of the series while reminding us that it still the same cartoon. The transition between the art styles throughout the movie is quite something entertaining.

Secondly, as someone who watched Sponge Bob in his childhood, I can say the people responsible for the series were saving their funniest jokes to this very moment. From start to finish, Sponge Out Of Water delivers quite a bunch of jokes that are far from being tiring and reminds even the adult audiences that grew up with Sponge Bob what it was all about. It is a child’s movie, yes, but the jokes will not be found as ridiculous or something only a child would laugh at. The whole family will definitely have a funny moment with the whole characters. Even the score is perfect for every moment to be funny.

Loyal fans, newcomers and the whole family will find this movie delightful. The plot is simple, and there is no real moral message or something like that, but what the film tried to do was done right: to entertain with rather funny jokes and make you grow fond of the characters. Not all of them have the participation that I would have expected them to have, especially when the CGI comes to life, but, in the end, the overall experience is quite satisfying. With this new Nickelodeon feature film, far from being obsolete, the series will definitely catch a lot of attention from kids and new fans alike.

Rating: 8 – Definitely worth it

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The Theory of Everything review

With a story that has seen both wonderful and tragic, heartbreaking moments, it was just a matter of time that somebody took the lead of portraying the life of one of the best minds of the century in the film industry. It’s not the first time that Stephen’s life has been tried to be depicted as a movie. Back in 2004 there was a TV film which starred Benedict Cumberbatch as the young scientist. However, this is its first attempt at the big screen. For this, James Marsh comes with an incredibly talented cast that keeps everything as real and powerful as ever. Thus, although it feels that some elements are missing, the final product doesn’t disappoint as we get 123 minutes of a powerful and touching experience that tells the hard times that Stephen and his first wife, Jane, faced together from the first time they meet to the climax of his physical limitations.

Right since the beginning it’s clear what the movie wants to show us: the powerful bonding of Stephen and Jane. We witness their first time talking at a party of scientists and how different they are from each other. Stephen is all about physics while Jane is more into arts and God. However, it’s a real delight to see how they grow together, especially on the peak of the story when Stephen is diagnosed with motor neuron disorder which changes his life forever. He begins to lose proper control of his body and is eventually confined to a wheel chair while Jane is convinced that their love will help them overcome this fight together.

All that is achieved by the glorious acting that is presented. There’s really no doubt about why both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are nominated for Best Actor and Best actress in a leading role, respectively, for these year’s Oscars. As spectators, we get a memorable experience as both of them do a terrific job at creating a romantic and tense atmosphere when they need to be that way. Eddie does such a realistic job at portraying professor Hawking in every way possible. The physical condition, the emotional devastation and even the great humorous spirit for which Hawking is known are what makes the film a joy to watch as well as Felicity’s sincere acting as a woman who loves her family but feels the stress of carrying everything through. Real-life Jane Wilde said in a recent interview that Felicity did an amazing job at doing it.

In addition, for a movie about a quite remarkable scientist, it is not exactly “scientific” as it is actually based on real-life Jane Wilde’s book Travelling to Infinity – My Life with Stephen. This is not a bad thing, because what is trying to be depicted is how Stephen and Jane managed to face the odds as a team and it is achieved in an outstanding way. Nonetheless, one would expect to (also) get a picture of how his works influence the world but that didn’t receive as much focus as the rest of the plot. Not even the moments when the scientific ideas are tried to be explained are very memorable as they feel without much personality. It wouldn’t have done any harm to follow some of Interstellar’s steps at explaining physics in a detailed yet understandable way for the average audience. It really doesn’t interfere with the real focus of the film but would have totally given a little of what the film slightly lacks: drama.

All in all, what we see in the big screen is definitely worth-watching. The cast is the real essence in a movie of a great man and a great woman the demonstrate love is what gives anybody a reason to live for. The score also need to be highlighted as a great factor that enhances the spirit of the film. The only downside might be that Stephen’s works are not depicted as remarkable and his physical illness as dramatic, which would have made it a complete film and depict why Hawking is the great man he is, because the movie is more about Jane. But, in conclusion, the movie as such does not let down, in general. It’s a love story capable of inspiring while giving us an idea of what Stephen has lived.

Rating: 7.5 – Enjoyable
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Batman Arkham Asylum review

Superheroes have a long and appealing history in everything surrounding comics and even movies but their role in the gaming industry has had a lot to be desired… until now. There are very few exceptions that have managed to get some praise and Batman: Arkham Asylum is not only one of those exceptions, but probably the best superhero creation ever in the history of video games. It’s so good to see that the same love that has been put in the new Batman films is also present in the consoles. There are already thousands of Batman fans out there and every single one of them, and whoever isn’t one already, will undoubtedly feel very pleased knowing that Rocksteady studios has created a superhero game loyal to the Batman legacy while remaining self-reliant of its movies counterparts with a gameplay so intuitive, fun, and innovative that you will finally feel… Batman.

It’s so rare to find these days a superhero game that isn’t just a copy of the movie that has just been released. However, some of the charm that makes Arkham Asylum different from the rest is the fact that it doesn’t rely on what has happened in any of the movies. It is a story made exclusively for the game written by Paul Dini, a very familiar face of several DC animated series, and the result is probably what you might not expect after seeing how the Batman cartoons and movies have been carried out. It is definitely not something made to be cute as the whole atmosphere that comes from the environment, the characters and the story itself is a very dark one. Now the villains take their role of seriously bad guys to the limits by the use of a strong language and explicitly putting forth their wish to kill Batman for real. But, actually, this is not a bad thing; it totally helps the experience to feel even more real since it is based on an asylum.

Arkham Asylum starts with almost no background story. Batman has just captured Joker and taken him to the asylum as he has done with every other bad guy he has come across with. However, Joker seems extremely passive about the situation. He is not concerned about being captured, as if it was all planned. And actually, it was! Joker now sets free inside the building to complete his distraction and carry out his plan of destroying Gotham City while Batman is trapped in the Asylum as well. From this point on, after a just couple of minutes, you are in control of Batman’s movements to find Joker and the rest of his allies that will do anything (and they mean it) to stop you AND kill you.

As you can see, the whole plot might look a bit simple and it might also be true but the most important factor that makes it worth it is how its narrative is presented. Part of this accomplishment comes from the terrific voice acting of other familiar faces of Batman with Kevin Conroy as the Dark Knight, Mark Hamill as The Joker and Arleen Sorkin as Harley Queen. It’s really nice to see that the same people are being asked again to represent their characters because it makes the game feel connected to the whole Batman universe that is already known in the animated series. But these guys are not the only ones that know how to talk in an attractive way; essentially all of the remaining characters, including villains and even support characters, helps everything taste exquisite.

Right after you are free to start your journey across the asylum the main attraction in the game is instantly shown. This game is extremely focused on every single ability Batman has as an actual superhero. The first thing you will notice is the combat mechanics. Batman is well known for being quite a fighter face to face and this is where you can totally take advantage of it yourself. It’s a simple system, very few buttons are required to deliver fascinating combos and that makes it real easy to learn. Nonetheless, the real challenge comes in the form of many enemies at a time. You will still use the same mechanic of directing punches to a foe and use your reflexes to block the guy next to you that wants to punch you too. And just in case you get bored of that just wait until the enemies with guns arrive because that’s the moment when you will truly test your skills because Batman takes real damage from them.

Thankfully, Batman is not just all about martial arts. He is very well equipped with weapons that you can strategically use to get rid of enemies in a way they would never expect it, such as the Batarangs. But the Arkham Asylum is not only meant to fight fist to fist, as you will utterly feel in love with being a silent assassin clearing your way out from the shadows. All the gadgets he brings with himself let him sneak around using the Batclaw to attack from above and an explosive gel to reveal hidden paths and to harm nearby enemies as they pass by. To make things even more interesting, as you progress in the game you will earn enough experience to purchase more ninja skills and enhance your whole arsenal as well as your detective vision.

The detective vision is the last element that fulfills the totally-being-the-Dark-Night experience. Bruce Wayne’s “mental perfection” has always allowed him to be the best detective ever and you can see that through his eyes now. By using the detective mode, the whole place changes. Walls likely to be destroyed are light out, just as the characters that are foes in red and how many with guns are there and hidden secrets that you will definitely spend a lot of time on. The Riddler is the one that wants to test your detective skills and intelligence because he leaves secrets and collectibles throughout the whole island. With the use of riddles that pop up in the screen every time you visit a new room (and literally, every room) there are plenty of things to do on the asylum to distract with.

One last final touch worth mentioning is the fact that the studio has made this game accessible for newcomers of Batman’s story. Even with very little real plot, some of the collectibles that find around the island (and some thanks to The Riddler riddles) are some information about recognized characters both heroes and villains of the franchise with their story, their first appearance info and what they are doing today. You will also come across some recordings that reveal some additional background stories for some of the characters like Harley Quinn’s twisted story interviewing patients when she was one of the psychiatrists.

It’s evident the amount of support that one of the most acknowledged superheroes of the time has also been shown enough love to shine in the video game industry. Many already recognize it as the best superhero video game of all time and with utter justice. It’s good to be part of a story that is not only a copy of a movie. It is a fresh script made specifically for gamers to know what being Batman is all about. And it is done in a terrific way as all his skills that he is known for are implemented with extreme detail. It seems superheroes in video games still have a very promising chance to stay in the business.

Rating: 9 – Outstanding experience

Tomb Raider review

There will always be a special feeling whenever a new title of a long-running franchise comes out, especially if it is one that has conquered the hearts of gamers for many generations already. And the hype can’t be any greater when the franchise we are talking about is one that has one of the most iconic video game characters as the protagonist, Lara Croft. She is one of those characters that will never get too old to be loved. Lara has appeared in several installments as the brave and already-well-experienced-at-surviving heroine we all know but now Crystal Dynamics have come up with a brand new Lara that is different from the rest of her alter egos. In this game, we witness the new Lara developing survival skills from zero while facing more danger than ever in a reboot that feels fresh and more real than ever.

It is not the first time we have the chance to see a Croft learning to be a badass but the way this time it is one is quite unique. It all begins with Lara being so enthusiastic about finding the truth of the mysteries surrounding the lost kingdom of Yamatai off the coast of Japan. As she and her colleagues and friends reach their destination, a huge storm destroys their boat leaving them all stranded in the island. Unfortunately, Lara landed on a different location than the rest and is forced to get over her innocence and build up enough courage to venture into the island by herself if she ever wants to see her friends again and find a chance to escape.

From this point on, everything is focused on Lara’s journey to discover her brave side. Since the very first time we are able to have control of her, it’s inevitable not to feel compassion for our young adventurer. Her most exciting expedition yet has been ruined leaving her apparently helpless and without any real convincement that she will survive. What enhances the tension are the sudden dangers that she is forced to face so soon. But these are the moments in which Lara starts using her young, but gifted, instincts to survive. And that is everything that drives the story forward because as we see her growing up Lara passes that feeling on to the player.

And that is a remarkable achievement done by Camilla Ludington, who plays the role of new Lara throughout the game. Her acting is outstandingly convincing in every portion of the story. The transition from the injured and scared young girl to the now ferocious killer is something worth witnessing. Nonetheless, although the talent is quite evident, it is true that sometimes her constant screams end up being slightly frustrating. But, after, it is a Tomb Raider game. Constant dangers are to be expected. But while Lara is still learning to withstand them, it gets a little tiring at times. Yet, it’s nothing that truly affects the overall experience in the end.

Another aspect to highlight is that Tomb Raider is no stranger for gun fighting. Weapons in this 2013 edition play an important role and definitely have an impact on the gameplay experience. Since very early on the game, you will notice that silently sneaking around is one of Lara’s greatest talents and it is very probably that you end up fond of that mechanic like I did. And that’s because the bow and arrow can be used in a very efficient way that makes you feel like the real predator hunting its preys. However, there will be times when a little use of the machine gun or shotgun will be necessary. Sadly, this is one of the sections where I feel Tomb Raider lowers its quality. Gun fighting can be fun at times, but it doesn’t feel as fresh as other aspects due to the fact that it really doesn’t offer anything new (apart from some clichés).

The gameplay mechanics have its pros and cons. To begin with, controlling Lara throughout the whole game is rather satisfactory. She feels so light whether while jogging or climbing and how she automatically squats to take cover feel so natural as a whole. On the other hand, the difficulty level is rather controverting. To be entirely honest, I felt that difficulty level decreases significantly over time due to a number of reasons. The game teaches you right at the beginning how to purchase skills to improve your combat and survival instincts even more. At first it is cool to help Lara become a brave adventurer, but with the time everything becomes way easier as you keep purchasing the goods. That, and the fact that the ammo is found nearly everywhere doesn’t exactly make it a challenging quest from start to finish.

Last but not least, the world of Yamatai which the story takes place is very nicely done. The game is linear but there are several collectibles spread across every section of the map, including hidden tombs, that might make some players want to find everything because hidden details about some background story are featured in those items, while others might just ignore them and go on with the story. After all, they are not vital. Nonetheless, it sure helps the whole world not to feel empty or too narrow.

In every aspect, Tomb Raider is without doubt and extremely enjoyable experience. The experience of seeing Lara discovering her own wild spirit is something quite touching due to the great acting of Luddington. Sadly, the great involvement is not present in the whole game. It is to thank that Tomb Raider doesn’t rely on clichés for the story, leaving only the relevant elements to be told, but it regrettably does rely on them on some of the gameplay characteristics. Still, it is so pleasant to be part of a game in which a character full of history in the industry of games such as Lara receives as much love as in the previous installments of the franchise. It is a successful reboot, no doubt, and will leave many, including me, anxiously waiting for future sequels.

Rating: 8 – Definitely worth it

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Zelda U’s probable spot in the timeline

From the very beginning we all knew the Zelda games were connected to one another but the how they were connected remained a mistery for many years. Fans from every place tried to create their own version of the timeline based on how much they knew the franchise and with the official statement that there were two different time periods. However, Nintendo revealed on 2011 the official timeline in the book Hyrule Historia which featured not one, not two, but three different time periods that included every single title that had been released. But now that Zelda U is coming out it’s time to revisit the timeline and speculate on which part it could be set. My theory is that it will take place right after Demise was defetead. That’s right, after the events in Skyward Sword.

Considering that there is very little we know about the new Zelda U you might think it’s very soon to have such a theory but, actually, we do have some things that could make us think it’s the other way around. First of all, we have to discard one almost impossible chance. Nintendo had said that Skyward Sword would be the very first title chronologically speaking and that it would be very complicated to make a prequel of it. That been said, let’s go.

To get started with, we have to see at the little evidence we have. First of all, in the massive world, it doesn’t look like many towns have been established, which would mean that they have very primitive lifestyles or that it can be a new land that was just recently discovered. Skyward Sword is meant to tell the story of why “the surface” is not inhabited and how it got inhabited again. And the world in Skyward Sword was in fact pretty huge, however, not everywhere could be explored, only specific areas. So, now we will be able to explore most of that surface. So there might be a very convincing connection there.

Secondly, we have to take a look at Link’s clothing. It’s the same style that was featured in Skyward Sword. I know that those clothes in SS are also very similar to the ones he uses in Twilight Princess. Nonetheless, Twilight Princess art style was dark to match the story and having a cel shaded game as its direct sequel would be very awkward. That’s why it makes more sense that he wears the same clothes as Skyward Sword.

Also, the only weapon we have seen from him is, apart from his sword and shield, a very peculiar bow and arrow. It looks as it’s been made with some ancient technology. Lets remember what we discovered in The Surface in Skyward Sword. The Ancient Robots lived in an era long time ago but we can actually see them if we travel to past periods using the Timeshift Stones. These robots used to have very ancient technology to help the unnamed people who built them.  There’s also the Lanayru Mining Facility which is a large, technologically advanced mining facility staffed by robots. All this has recently been discovered, so it makes sense that they take advantage of it. And wouldn’t they know how to use it, there’s Scrapper, a robot survivor.

The other Zelda games that are known for their notorious technological advancements are the ones present in the Adult’s Timeline, being The Wind Waker and Phantom  Hourglass with some boats and Spirit Tracks with the trains and Link being an actual engineer. But it’s not very likely that this game can be a sequel to them because we haven’t seen any railroads, to begin with.

Last, but not least, there’s the biggest possibility of all. The Sailcloth! The only time this item has been seen in Skyward Sword when Zelda gives it to Link as the trophy of the Wing Ceremony. The fact that he keeps it for his new journey does make quite sense, considering how useful it was when falling from very high places. However, it’s been given another use. It seems not it can be used as a Deku Leaf, like the one in The Wind Waker. But back to the theory, no other game has it and it would be really weird to see they created a new, identical one. Even the green tunic that is customed for the new heroes to wear has had its modifications.

Another thing that has been shown from the game is Epona. But I don’t consider her relevant to have a conclusion because Epona has appeared in two very different periods. Ocarina of Time – Majora’s Mask and a hundres years later in Twilight Princess. So, Epona can reappear as something that doesn’t affect the timeline directly.

Since before and after the official timeline has been revealed a franchise that has so many games connected to one another always make people debate about how they are connected and as long as more Zelda games get released, there will be material to keep debating.

That’s all the evidence I can find for now to say in which part of the Timeline this new game will be placed. Of course, the evidence is minimum but I thought it was quite convincing. As soon as there is new info about the game details I will update my theory.

Creator Shigeru Miyamoto talks about Zelda U’s side quests

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Since Nintendo showed a gameplay demo about the upcoming Legend Of Zelda for Wii U and it’s vast open world people have been wondering if the game will feature any side missions or other things to do or if there will be nothing to see and do. Well, now Nintendo has confirmed in an interview with youtuber iJustin that there will be many things to do “there may even be times where you forget what your goal is”.

I, myself, was one of the many people worrying about the game not having an actual story or that Nintendo wouldn’t give us something to do in that huge, gorgeous map. The reason was that Nintendo had previously stated the new Zelda’s story would be made by the players, which raised some questions as to whether that meant you had to let your imagination flowing or something else. Another reason was, although a very early prediction, the fact that the demo didn’t show any relevant sight or activity, other than some enemies.

They were all rushed conclusions, of course, as nothing else has been revealed about the game. Until now. Miyamoto has made it clear that Zelda U will have quite a big number of side missions. The Legend of Zelda franchise is not new to this kind of things. However, the time Nintendo has put more effort into the side quests of a Zelda game has been Majora’s Mask with magnificent results. That’s probably the time most gamers have forgot that the moon was about to squeeze everything because some of the side missions were very involving. No one can forget about Anju and Kafei…

That’s why knowing that Zelda U will also be very focused on the side quests has got me excited. They already prooved they can make such an immersive and emotional experience from side missions and it will definitely be interesting to try them out on the new game. Another thing is that all the team working in this project have already said that this is the Zelda game they have always wanted to create, so we can totally expect a lot of heart will be put into it.

The Legend of Zelda for Wii U will is set to be released at the end of the year. In the meantime, (and if no delays are known), we will surely get even more info regarding all the detalis about this new open world game. From plot details, to characters, even the new name. Most of this will likely be revealed on the E3 this summer, so have no choice to patiently wait.

Most Expected Movies of 2015

They say that every New Year is a new beginning and that is no exception for movies. 2014 was the year of many sequels and prequels but there were also remarkable ones, some disappointments and a bit of controversy but the world has moved on so best we do it too. Here are the most expected movies of 2015.

7. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2

The whole Hunger Games franchise has been a worldwide hit with every new release in the last few years and 2015 will be the time when the final installment ends the series.

After watching a massive advertising campaign in the first part about the revolution while waiting for something to actually happen we finally get a chance to see what the last chapter is all about: the battle against the capitol.

One of the most popular actresses today, Jennifer Lawrence comes once again as Katniss Everdeen as the leader of the rebels who have built up enough courage to raise in arms and fight for justice.

Expect the final chapter come to an end on November 20.

6. Mad Max: Fury Road

This film faced many problems throughout its production that caused it several delays and many had even speculated that it would never become a real thing. But after almost 30 years since the original Mad Max trilogy was released now it’s time for George Miller to return to the helm of the fourth installment of the post-apocalyptic series.

Fury Road had originally been planned for Mel Gibson to return as the main character as he did in the first three movies, but in the end Tom Hardy will be leading the cast as the new Mad Max Rockatansky, a rebel on the run who, alongside Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is trying to get rid of the chaos surrounding the vast desert they live in.

However, Miller had described Fury Road as an action film from start to finish, so expect some impressive action sequences and vehicle chases become the main attraction when it finally comes out on May 15.

5. Tomorrowland

At this time of cinematography history theatres are flooded with remakes, sequels and even prequels and they are under an urgent need of something that feels fresh. Tomorrowland is one of the few original productions that are worth noticing this year because the person responsible for directing this Disney live action film is none other than Brad Bird, one of the best directors in the last years, whose works includeThe Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol, among others.

The only thing that is known about the movie is that Britt Robertson and George Clooney will be starring the film as Casey and “former boy-genius” Frank, respectively, who embark on a journey through space all the way to Tomorrowland in which their actions will affect their world and themselves, “forever”.

Even though the plot details are scarce, the fact that Brad Bird will be directing it is close to enough to make us get excited about it and pay closer attention to further info until we can finally go see it on May 22.

4. Inside Out

After one year off the big screen, Pixar is planning to release not one, but two movies this year. One is the delayed The Good Dinosaur and the other one is Inside Out. However, Inside out is the one that slightly captures more our attention.

This plot is the result of an original idea from the genius director of UP andMonster, Inc., Pete Docter and will tell the story of a little girl, Ryona, as she struggles the phase of “change” due to her dad’s new job in San Francisco. What makes it engaging is the fact that everything will be based on how the emotions work inside a person’s mind. And, since Ryona is still a child, there’s a lot of chaos regarding the 5 emotions that control her in headquarters inside her head: anger, fear, disgust, sadness and joy.

CGI behemoth, Pixar, has been well known for bringing very mature flicks in the form of exquisite animations in the past and it will be rather interesting to see this one when it comes out on June 19.

3. Jurassic World

After witnessing the visually stunning Jurassic Park becoming a great success back in 1993 and its sequels disappointing most of the people who loved the first part in 1997 and 2001, respectively, it’s time for the fourth entry of the franchise to finally appear on the big screen. Jurassic World was first scheduled for a 2005 release but got a little delayed over time.

The direction of Colin Trevorrow and production of Steven Spielberg will take us back to Isla Nublar to experience John Hammond’s original vision finally becoming a reality. There are new experiments taking place in the new dinosaur theme park which include, among others, an extremely intelligent hybrid dinosaur that will likely unleash chaos once again. Among the actors we will see Chris Patt after his journey in Guardians of the Galaxy and Bryce Dallas Howard as a genetic engineer.

The new park will have its gates open on June 12.

2. The Avengers: Age of Ultron

It’s kind of difficult to find somebody today that doesn’t get at least a little excited about any superhero movie that Marvel has to offer especially if that movie gathers up a bunch of heroes that have been mashing the box office the last few years with its own shows in the big screen.

Following the imminent success of The Avengers back in 2012, Age of Ultron will have again the participation of Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Tony Stark, Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner as the main heroes while introducing new members to the group such as Aaron Taylor and Elizabeth Olsen as the twins Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, respectively. This time the members of the Avengers will have to face a new threat that comes by the name of Ultron.

The second installment in the Avengers franchise will probably be one of the biggest box office success of the year following the steps of its older brother almost three years ago but for that we will have to wait until it comes out on May 1.

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

There is no real surprise that Star Wars: Episode VII has created more buzz than any other film in this list since its announcement right after Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012 if we have a look at the impact that the whole franchise has had in popular culture for many years. The first trilogy was a massive success upon its release back in late 70s and early 80s and even if the prequels that came out from 1999 to 2005 didn’t receive as much love as Episode IV, V and VI it’s hard not to get eager about how this new announced trilogy will turn out.

Now with JJ Abrams in the helm of this voyage to the galaxy far, far away, The Force Awakens will take place 30 years after Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi and feature the participation of beloved characters such as Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Leia Ogana and Harrison Ford as Han Solo.

Out of that any more details have been revealed other than rumors but do expect a lot of info being shown throughout the year until we can finally go see it on December 18.

Conclusion

With all that been said 2015 definitely looks like a year worth of good movies. Sequels and Prequels will still take the lead in the industry but most of them are quite promising and have already gotten a lot of attention from fans, especially if we realize that their respective predecessors were in fact instant successes so there’s nothing that makes us think that this year will not feature any more box office smashers.

What do you think? Do you agree with me or are you expecting some other ones?