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Man in a Maze – iOS Review

Ruaidhri Walker

Crystal Maze was cool, this is a simple fact. So cool that when it appeared in the awful film version of Dungeons and Dragons it made one scene almost cool. For those not old enough to remember, or born in an area that wasn’t in the UK, the Crystal Maze was a game show which featured Richard O’Brian, who wrote The Rocky Horror Show. He led a band of men and women around a disturbingly well designed set in a studio featuring; Aztec Zone, Industrial Zone, Medieval Zone and Future Zone. In each zone various challenges were submitted in different rooms and with that came a time limit, if said contestant lost or ran out of time they were locked in the room until their team mates deemed their life valuable enough to warrant sacrificing some of the game shows money to buy back their pathetic existence.

“Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler…” – Mike Judge’s Office Space

Max

It’s Monday.  The alarm goes off.  You hit snooze.  It goes off again 10 minutes later.  Remarkably you find the will to get out of bed (fighting the urge to sink back into its somniferous warmth).  You brush the sleep out of your eyes, take a shower and have some breakfast, and make the morning commute to the office.  And then you sit in front of a computer for 8 hours, looking at lines and lines of data, talking to people (for the most part) you have little or no concern for, before making the commute back home.  After 4 hours you go to bed.  And then you wake up and do it all over again.  For the next 45 years.

The Last of His Kind: A Brief History of Halo, Part One

Max

I’ll level with you: up until about 6 weeks ago I had no interest in the Halo franchise.  I bought an Xbox – the original one, made from pinball machines – not long after launch.  I also bought its ‘killer app’ (as marketing execs and teenage mutant ninja turtles would be wont to say).  My initial thoughts at the time were, ‘this looks great’ and also ‘this looks boring’.  I held that belief for almost ten years, until curiosity got the better of me (and because a brand new trilogy was on its way).  Turns out I loved Halo the second time through… but this article isn’t about the whys of gameplay, or the hows of instigating a new era of shooters.  No, this is about the one thing that even my indifferent self of ten years was curious about.  The story of Halo…

Sky Hero – iOS Review

Callum

 Chances are if you own an iOS device, you’ve played a runner game. From Temple Run to Jetpack Joyride, the genre and platform are a perfect match with short, sharp, pick-up-and-play sessions lending themselves perfectly to gaming on the go. Does Sky Hero, the latest offering from mobile publishing giants Chillingo, offer anything new to the genre to really stand out from the crowd?

Arkham Asylum: A Psychological Profile

Max

“Some idiot is running around the asylum, dressed like a bat…! I know! Crazy!”  While the Joker’s words could be viewed as – and admittedly are, if you’re sad like me – funny, there is something unsettling about them.  2009’s Arkham Asylum is, at the very least, one of my favourite games of recent times.  Everything it excels at is there in a neat package: graphics, storyline, script, gameplay, voice acting – but there is something else that makes it so masterful.  It’s a head fuck.

Top 5 Best Gaming Special Editions

Callum

The current generation of gaming has seen ‘special’ editions go from a genuine rarity to something expected with every big release; the previous generation of consoles had 37 special edition releases, the current has over a whopping 125 (and counting). Cynics would call them nothing more than an effort to part gamers with even more of their hard-earned cash, with some offerings little more than in-game bonuses and DLC, whilst figurines seem to be the current flavour of the month.

Crystal Blue Persuasion: Breaking Down “Breaking Bad”

Max

Malcolm in the Middle’s dad is a crystal meth cook. To be more accurate, the actor Bryan Cranston dons this new career path as Breaking Bad’s Walter White. To watch this Jekyll and Hyde-like character is a master class in acting, and full credit is due to the Emmy Award winner (3 consecutive years nonetheless).

Walt is a fifty year old chemistry teacher (and part-time cashier), a remarkably intelligent man whose life could have been very different, a man trying to support his pregnant wife and disabled son (played by RJ Mitte, who suffers from cerebral palsy in real life), a man who discovers he has lung cancer…

Gaming Sequels: A Developer’s Headache

Callum

Hitman: Absolution has ended a six-year long wait for another sequel in the much-loved stealth franchise. Despite scoring what can be described as very strong scores across most reviews (it’s currently sitting at 81 for Xbox on Metacritic, one less than its predecessor) it has greatly upset some fans of the series due to slightly changing the formulae of the previous four games.

Top 5 Invented Languages For TV and Film

Lyndsay Moir

We have all been there, sat with our nibble of choice and plenty of beers (or soda) chilling in the fridge, ready to watch the newest film that we have been all hyped about, or ready to destroy our way through a huge new TV box set. Well I was doing this just last night, with a cheeky bit of Game of Thrones before bed, and suddenly I was listening to a language I didn’t quite recognise, when they started to speak Dothraki. Then a thought struck me, mid popcorn munch, as to just how many languages have actually been made up for a TV series of Film, and even better, which ones are my favourite? It seems all writers are now going that extra ‘Tolkien’ mile to construct a new language for their stories, so there are so many to choose from!

Here is my list of my all time favourite made up languages

Endless Road – iOS Review

Ruaidhri Walker

I have never made secret my love for Mirror’s Edge, I wrote an entire love letter to it here. It may seem like a bit of a faux pas to start a review for one game by talking about a love of another but for me it’s like telling your friends that your girlfriend/boyfriend looks like Mylene Klass/ David Tennant, the comparison is more praise than anything else you can give. Endless Road is close to aesthetic perfection as Mirror’s Edge.

Pony Trails – iOS Review

Ruaidhri Walker

What is a pony? I genuinely have no idea. Is it a short horse? Or a breed of horse? I am 26 and I have only just come to the realisation that this is a piece of information I am missing from my brain. All I know about ponies is that there are 3 types of people who truly like ponies. The first is little girls, this seems like a given. The average little girl like ponies and kittens and ballet. “Pink stuff” I refer to it as. The second person to like ponies are the middle England upper class that enjoy watching Crufts and fox-hunting. The final person to enjoy ponies are bronies. To explain what a brony is I should first say, they scare the hell out of me. These are generally guys in the mid twenties who watch My Little Pony cartoons in a supposedly ironic way but then also have an undying love for it. They’re weird, really weird, the kind of weird that leads to a hotel room being filled with photos and red string leading from one face to another.

F1 Race Stars – Xbox 360/PS3/PC Review

Ruaidhri Walker

Formula One is something that I’ve never had an interest in. The loud noise and repetitive nature always perplexed and bore me rather than rattle my core and send me into a screaming frenzy. The sight of cars that can go so fast in such a small amount of time being forced to screech to a halt to get round a corner is more of a confusion than titillating. And the process of the drivers doing 70 odd laps was mind numbingly dull. It should be said now that no sport has ever entertained me, I’ve tried with football, I tried rugby and I even tried snooker but each I felt was too long. Being the walking hypocrite and contraction I am I did for a very short time find golf fascinating, not because of the skill or excitement, but because the quiet sound of some birds tweeting, the occasional golf swing and the bright green colours would send me into some sort of serene fugue state.

Gears of War Meccano Toy Review – C.O.G. Centaur Tank

Ruaidhri Walker

When I was about 5 or 6 I remember being at a family friend’s house. Being a petulant child I wanted something to entertain me, when a bright yellow metal briefcase was laid in front of me I finally felt like I was growing up. I was seen as too old to play with Duplo or Lego, I was now moving onto the toy for adults and engineers. Of course the Meccano which was held within the yellow case was too much for me. I was too young and without instructions, I wasn’t able to produce anything more than bolting various metal pieces together in a straight line; to be honest my skill with Meccano was much like that of a relatively bad clown making balloon animals “look kid a snake!”

Assassin’s Creed Hidden Blade Toy Review

Ruaidhri Walker

Oh the fun of Assassin’s Creed, running along roof tops like a fiddler and leaping from great heights just to shiv a guy. Assassin’s Creed is one of many games where I’ve taken the game sub consciously into real life. I’ve been waiting at bus stops and looking at the buildings around thinking “I’d run along there and climb that, jump over there and swing down that pole” all the while tracing a route with my eyes. Of course I can’t do those things, firstly because of the legality of prancing about on other people’s roof tops and secondly because I am a man in his late 20’s who is overweight and with a bum knee.

Is James Bond a Sociopath?

Ruaidhri Walker

Like many people this past week I went to the cinema to see the latest James Bond film Skyfall. I’ve seen all of the Bond films over the years and although I wouldn’t class myself as a true fan of the series there have been elements in each that have entertained me.  There’s high points in the Bond series and low points, Skyfall itself is actually a great film, if only slightly ruined by its’ butt numbing length.

Something has always bugged me about James Bond though, it’s not his smug attitude or his callous killing sprees; it’s the jokes. The jokes that came mainly around the Roger Moore era of Bonds where he would take a man’s life away in the blink of an eye with no remorse and then make a pun about how he dismissed him. This is not the behaviour of a sane man, this is someone who is clearly disturbed on a mental level.

He-Man:The Most Powerful Game In The Universe – iOS Review

Spike

Over the last few years executives all over the world have become acutely aware of the selling power of nostalgia. From live action Transformers to semi-anime Thundercats and everything in between we are choosing more and more to watch/read/and play stuff we liked as a kid. Now i’m certain I watched He-Man as a child but as I came to play this game I realised that I remember almost nothing about the show that inspires it. Which is pretty bad for my own identity as a nerd from the 80’s, but probably a good thing to go in fresh as a reviewer.

Save Them All – iOS Review

Ruaidhri Walker

There’s a question that often enters my balding head, one that in this return to pick up and play/one minute/pooping games is more prevalent than ever: Do games need a point?

Games with plot and characters obviously have motivation and a reason to keep playing but then there’s endless run games like Temple Run, Canabalt and Save Them All which try to maintain player interest through the concept of power ups and score board whoring.