Friday, 28 March 2014

My Top 10 PS3 Games

ps3 logo
My Top 10 PS3 Games
With the release of the PS4 and XBone at the end of last year, we’re officially in the new generation of games consoles, and while the previous generation is far from dead (and is unlikely to actually finish up for another few years) now seems a pretty good time to look back at the gems that it spawned.
   My console of choice for the previous generation was the PS3, a console which changed a lot of what I thought about video games. I’ve gone from being someone who cares most about gameplay to someone who cares most about story. I truly feel that this generation will be remembered as the one where games finally evolved to be a true narrative art form, with its technical advancements being matched by a growing emphasis on plot and character development.
   I’ve also become less intent on owning physical copies of games. Before this generation I was wary of content I wouldn’t actually “own” but in recent years, many of my favourite titles have been indie game available as downloads only and I’ve put aside my dislike of digital content due to the benefits it provides for smaller developers to deliver unusual, unique titles.

   So here are my top 10 Ps3 games. I tried not to give myself too many restrictions. I won’t be focusing on exclusives so several of these titles appear on other consoles, but I’ll not be including any HD collections or ports from previous generations of the playstation itself, I’ll also not be including anything I haven’t personally played (before anyone complains I’ve not included The Last of Us or GTAV on my list). 
   You’re bound to disagree with some of my choices, these are just my personal picks, but be sure to leave your own choices in the comments, I’d love to hear them.

Banning books in prison

Banning books in prison

It was recently revealed that prisoners in the UK have been stopped from recieving books as gifts from outside of prison. Books are a fundamental tool in education and the idea of a prison resctricting access to them for its inmates is in direct contradiction with the prison's duty of providing an environment conducive to rehabilitation.

If you agree with this you can sign the petition below.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Pokémon Adventures Vol 1

Pokemon Adventures
Pokémon Adventures Vol 1
Hidenori Kusaka & Mato

   When I was a kid, I absolutely adored Pokémon. I had Pokémon blue on the gameboy though I was more of a fan of the anime, and had clothes, toys, cards, plushes, even bouncy balls all emblazoned with the various characters. I also had a handful of issues of the Pokémon manga series, Pokémon Adventures which I enjoyed, but which presented a very different version of the world than I was used to.
   When I hit my teens my love of the series waned and to this day, while I’d still consider myself a fan of the first generation, I know very little about where the series has gone since. I’ve been interested in getting back into it though and my first step to doing so was tracking down the first volume of Pokémon Adventures to see what I thought about it several years on.

Red gets spooked in Lavender Town
   The first thing to note about Pokémon Adventures is that, while it takes hints from the anime, such as Ash’s friendship with Misty and having Pikachu as a main character, the series definitely takes its inspiration from the games. Ash and Gary revert to their original game universe names of Red and Blue and characters like Brock and Misty who became regular side characters in the show, for the most part, revert back to their original Gym leader positions.
   I really like this version of the Pokémon universe, it seems to get the best of both worlds, the original characters from the games and the additional narrative benefits of the anime series. The whole thing feels like a novelisation of the games and that’s something I’m all for.

   The story itself is a decent blend of serious and comical stories. The more important narrative driven stories arc across several issues giving them enough time to play out effectively, with occasional one off issues dealing with more light hearted subjects like a bike race or Red meeting Joey, a scientist who, in a parody of the fly, has had his mind placed in the body of a Ratata.
   My favourite story in this first volume was the lavender town arc which is a dark take on the, already pretty creepy level from the original game. It sees Red do battle with some pretty horrific zombie Pokémon as well as Blue’s Charmeleon killing an Arbok by cutting it in half.

Battling Ghastly
   Mato’s art is fantastic, the style is cute overall, pretty reminiscent of Astro Boy in fact, but still manages to work well during dramatic scenes and battles. As for the battles, the art is dynamic but easy to follow. It’s easy to make out what’s happening during the fight scenes and they’re never too cluttered which is a problem I often have with manga. Here, it manages to be cinematic with great pacing throughout.

   While this first volume of Pokémon Adventures hasn’t quite reignited my love of the series like I hoped it would, it’s still a very fun read and I’ll definitely pick up the next volume. If you’re new to Pokémon and looking for a way into the series I’d highly recommend it, and if you’re already a fan who hasn’t picked it up, get it now.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Five People You Meet In Heaven

The Five People you meet in Heaven
The Five People You Meet In Heaven
Mitch Albom 
"THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN is a wonderfully moving fable 
that addresses the meaning of life, and life after death"

Saturday, 8 March 2014

We are all completely beside ourselves

We are all completely beside ourselves
We are all completely beside ourselves 
Karen Joy Fowler

   This book is a little difficult to talk about, you see there’s a reveal about a major character a little way into the book. I don’t think telling you the reveal would really count as a spoiler seeing as it happens just seventy-ish pages in and is in itself the whole point of the novel, that said I also don’t want to ruin it for those who want the book left unspoiled…
   I’ll give you a brief spoiler free review first, then, if you want to know more I’ll go into more detail in the second half of the review (I’ll only be talking about the initial reveal of the book and won’t be spoiling any of the actual plot points later on, so the review will still be spoiler free for the most part).

   Okay, now that that’s out of the way, we can begin…

   “We are all completely beside ourselves” tells the story of Rosemary, we see her through many points in her life, but mostly during her college years where she struggles to deal with the effects of her broken upbringing.
One day, when she is still a child, her sister disappears, setting off a chain of events that eventually leads to her brother running away from home.

   I enjoyed this book but I found myself unable to fully immerse in it. I found the story a little slight, and, even after pages and pages of psychological evaluations of Rosemary, I still felt she was somewhat underdeveloped as a character, over the course of the novel I never fully felt I had a grasp on her and it was frustrating.
   The writing style was good and I enjoyed the constant jumps through time to various points of Rose’s life, however towards the end I felt the subject matter got a little too preachy, it felt too much like the author’s opinions were being shoved down my throat rather than allowing me to make my own mind up.

   That said, I did enjoy this book and would probably recommend you pick it up, even if I was left wishing I’d enjoyed it more. It’s probably worth reading for the final chapter alone which contains one of the most emotional passages I’ve yet come across...

   Okay, so that’s my spoiler free wrap up, if you don’t want to know anything else about the book I’d suggest you leave now (after leaving your thoughts in the comments of course :D )…

   ….seriously, here be spoilers….

   …you’ve been warned…

   …okay…full review below the page break...

Monday, 3 March 2014