The honeymoon phase is over for Battle for Azeroth, World of Warcraft's seventh expansion. Since its release on August 13, I've reunited the houses of Kul Tiras, spelunked into the halls of Uldir and each of Battle for Azeroth's ten dungeons, and helped more turtle hatchlings brave the treacherous journey to the safety of the ocean's waters than I care to admit. But now that I've spent a significant amount of time (another hundred hours almost) with Battle for Azeroth's myriad new systems, progression grinds, and group activities, how are they holding up?Short answer? Pretty good, but there's a lot that needs improving.When I first reviewed Battle for Azeroth, it was clear that this was no Legion. It lacked that ‘all hands on deck’ vibe that made Warcraft's previous expansion so exciting—Blizzard pulled out all the stops to win fans back after the disappointment of Warlords of Draenor. But Battle for Azeroth is a much more modest expansion, both in terms of its themes … [Read more...] about How is World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth holding up one month after launch?
World of illusion
Avengers: Infinity War has an ending that lands very differently depending on the age of the viewer. [Warning: The following includes major spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War.] In the final moments of Infinity War, half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe turns to dust. The magical genocide is supposed to feel like a shock in a series of movies that almost always end with the bad guy defeated. Technically half of all living things just blinked out of existence. The Avengers movies work on two distinct levels for two very different audiences, and it’s that kind of meta-awareness of not only telling a good story but being aware of the industry in which that story is being told that helps Marvel dominate pop culture with such confidence. Adults aren’t watching these films the same way as children do, and we’re certainly not entertaining the idea that these characters are gone for good. This is how the how movie plays to two different sets of eyes. Devoted MCU viewers … [Read more...] about We can’t forget the ending of Avengers: Infinity War will crush young viewers
Once when I was small I went to the shops to buy an explosive - a tiny microdet designed for stage pyrotechnics. I've been fortunate that I've never really had blood on my hands when playing with fire, but that day I did get a lot of raspberry jam on them. A school friend held a balloon open while I crammed in as much jam as possible before knotting it sealed. Then we pierced a small hole in a puppet's head and inserted the microdet followed by the balloon of clotted blood-like substance. I hooked the wires up to a 9-volt battery behind the camcorder, which was masking-taped to a makeshift dolly (a pram on rails). In exquisite anticipation I barked "Action!" But things didn't quite go to plan. At that age, life only made sense when you were having fun. The freedom to play was why blood pumped through your veins. It was necessary to experiment and push boundaries, to test and meddle with the laws of physics. Teasing spiders, climbing trees, disturbing bee's nests, throwing … [Read more...] about In praise of a BBC Micro classic: Forever playing in Exile
A genuine Super NES classic, Secret of Mana holds a special place in the hearts of those that played it back in the day. Its blend of role-playing action, gorgeous visual design and evocative music remains a treat even today. The series has persisted across multiple generations since, but the original is still best. Or is it? Last week, Square-Enix released a 3D remake for PS4, PS4 Pro, PC and even PS Vita - and we've played them all. But what makes this game special? Secret of Mana holds up today and was considered good enough to make the top 21 line-up for SNES mini, and this is perhaps surprising bearing in mind its troubled development. Originally designed for the Super NES's CD-ROM attachment, a collaboration with Sony, the game was originally lined up as a launch title for the Super Disc format - a vast adventure that would take full advantage of the extra disc space rather than simply slapping a few Redbook audio tracks on the disc like many other titles. When the CD project was … [Read more...] about Secret of Mana’s 3D remake is good fun
See that mountain way in the distance? You won’t be going there, buddy – and that’s great! I never played Shadow of the Colossus before starting the 2018 remake a couple of weeks ago. Somehow, though always aware of the game’s stature, I could never find it in me to give it a go. I am now halfway through it, and I couldn’t be happier to have discovered it today. Playing it in 2018 is perfect, because it comes at a time when practically every big game has an open world, whether it needs to or not. Shadow of the Colossus may not fit the modern definition of open-world, but it’s the best example of the concept in its era. As I played more and more of it, I couldn’t stop comparing and contrasting its design with that of modern games in the back of my head, particularly the games built around the size of their worlds. The biggest crime modern open-world games continue to commit is that they do very little with these vast worlds. The hundreds of … [Read more...] about Shadow of the Colossus is a great reminder of why modern open-world games suck