Saturday, 23 May 2015

Silicon Valley Season 1: Blu Ray Review

Silicon Valley Season 1: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by HBO and Roadshow Home Ent

Focusing on a computer programmer in Silicon Valley, and skewering the likes of Google with its rip off company Hooli, this comedy series from HBO and directed by Mike Judge is perhaps one of the freshest surprises of 2015.

Thomas Middleditch channels his inner awkwardness as the Zuckerberg-type programmer Richard whose algorithm to compress files sparks a bidding war in the Valley and puts him on the map as a geek to watch out for.

Turning down millions and sticking with his mismatched and misfit crew of programmers who have their own social issues and working under the boorish been-there-already-done-it-lost-it boss Erlich (played with Emmy nominated brilliance by T J Miller),  Richard finds his company facing all kinds of problems as it squares up against the big players of the Valley.

Wisely choosing to go for smaller comedy moments rather than full-on eccentricity, Office Space's Judge's created a comedy that gets under your skin and demands you binge it all in one go. Funny, without being overtly OTT but occasionally being smart enough to use slapstick, Silicon Valley is a rare find, given that it's played on cable both here and abroad.

Clever without being alienating, funny without resorting to broadstroke stereotypes, it displays the smarts that you would want from a great legendary comedy.

It remains to be seen whether season 2 reaches the highs of the first, given the possibility of bringing in more characters, but as long as Judge retains that eye for his characters and character moments, Silicon Valley is the first must-see TV of the year.


Friday, 22 May 2015

Need For Speed is back

Need For Speed is back

host Games™, an Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) studio, announced today the return of Need for Speed™ in a full reboot of this storied franchise.  The game delivers on what the fans want, and what Need for Speed stands for - deep customisation, authentic urban car culture, a nocturnal open world, and an immersive narrative that pulls you through the game.

“Need for Speed is one of the most iconic names in gaming, and we're returning it to greatness in this reboot,” said Marcus Nilsson, Executive Producer at Ghost Games. “Pulling on our 20 years of history, and then taking a year out from releasing a game, we are making the game we’ve always wanted to. We're listening to the fans and delivering an experience that will capture their imagination and unleash their passion for cars and speed.”

Games of Thrones - Sons of Winter is coming

Games of Thrones - Sons of Winter is coming

Based on the award-winning HBO television drama series, Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series tells the story of House Forrester. Caught up in the events of The War of the Five Kings, they are placed in a precarious position where members of the household must do everything they can to prevent the house from meeting its doom.

The fourth of six episodes in the series, 'Sons of Winter' will be available starting Tuesday, May 26th on PC/Mac from the Telltale Online Store, Steam, and other digital distribution services, as well as the PlayStation®Network for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 in North America (SCEA) and Europe (SCEE). The episode will be available on Wednesday, May 27th on the Xbox Games Store for Xbox One® and Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, and will be coming to compatible iOS devices via the App Store and to Android-based devices on May 28th. 

The game series is based on the world, characters and events seen in HBO's TV show, which in turn is based on George R. R. Martin's books (A Song of Ice and Fire). The events in the game series begin towards the end of Season Three of the series, and end right before the beginning of Season Five. Players will visit familiar locations such as King's Landing and The Wall, as well as unfamiliar locations such as Ironrath, the home of House Forrester. 

The game is played from five different points of view. Each is a member of House Forrester; either a direct family member, or a person in service to the House. Scattered across Westeros and Essos, each will play their part in seeking to save House Forrester from destruction. 

In Episode 4, the fate of the scattered Forresters hangs in the balance, and no one allied with the family is safe. An unexpected meeting offers Rodrik a new opportunity to free Ironrath from its Whitehill stranglehold, but with young Ryon Forrester still held prisoner, his next moves are critical. Gared must abandon Castle Black and venture beyond the Wall in search of the mysterious North Grove, risking encounters with Wildlings and worse. In King's Landing, the population is reeling from a recent royal death, and Mira must step carefully in an increasingly complex game of politics where secrets are traded as currency. Far away in Essos, Asher infiltrates the slave city of Meereen at the behest of Daenerys Targaryen, but will the friendship he holds dear break under the strain of a mission that raises memories best forgotten? 

Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series - Episode 4: 'Sons of Winter' is rated 'M' (Mature) for Intense Violence, Blood, and Strong Language by the ESRB. Future content in the series is yet to be rated by the ESRB. 

For more information on Telltale Games, visit the official website, Facebook for Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series, and follow Telltale Games on twitter @TelltaleGames.

Veep Season 3: DVD Review

Veep Season 3: DVD Review

Rating : M
Released by Warner Home Video and Roadshow Home Ent

The much under-rated Julia Louis Dreyfus sitcom brings its 10 episodes of season 3 to the small screen.

For the unintiated, Veep focuses on Selina Meyer, the current Vice president (and her staffers and their foibles and quirks). The third season sees Meyer toying with the big job of POTUS and dealing with the smaller issues as well.

Written by Armando Iannucci and spun off from The Thick Of It, Veep remains a solidly funny sitcom that works on escalating and smart farce in equal measures. Excellent support from the likes of Tony Hale and incredibly savvy and satirical writing boosts Louis-Dreyfus' natural comic timings and elevates the series to new levels.

Worth dipping your toes into and seeing what rises, Veep certainly gets my vote.


Thursday, 21 May 2015

State of Decay: Year One Edition: XBox One Review

State of Decay: Year One Edition: XBox One Review

Platform: XBox One
Released by Undead Games

Something's rotten in State of Decay: Year One Edition - and it ain't just the zombies on show.

Remastered for the grunty XBox One from its 2013 release, this tale of ragtag survivors and the attacking zombie hordes is exactly what you'd expect from a cross between Grand Theft Auto and Dead Island.

Essentially, split over 3 DLCs, all collected together in one package, you're just trying to do what you can to survive an apocalypse, be it in the form of military action or everyday survivor, it's all your decisions.

Using various areas as bases, you head off on different missions; in one you're a simple guy named Marcus who's off fishing with his mate, Ed, when the masses attack. To survive, you have to bash their heads in, get to others who have survived and band together. In another, you're a military soldier, trying to protect your base and getting hold of various people needed for your missions - as well as using your car to plough through the hordes of the undead.

Food, medicine, shelter, weapons, ammo; they're all here for the taking and all for you to utilise as you wander from one level to the next. But the more people you find, the more ability you have to switch between characters and to play the story from other angles.

So far, so Grand Theft Auto.

The problem with State of Decay is how average it all looks on the screen - particularly for a next gen title release.

Zombies glitch, get stuck in apparently solid objects and pop up randomly with no warning. Equally, your character can walk through solid objects, jump through walls without actually going through them and looks like it was designed for a SEGA console way back when.

There's no finesse here and while the gameplay's relatively enjoyable, (plus it never gets tired of letting you plough into the undead with cars), the whole thing's fairly static. Cut scenes have about as much life in them as a piece of cardboard frozen solid on an icy day and there's little to progress here in terms of interaction.

Buggy it may be, and while that's endearing for a little bit, the frustrations of the gameplay come to the fore perhaps more than you'd expect. Collecting together the DLCs of Breakdown and Lifeline add a little more to the overall package, but don't fully give it the feel that it's a premium title.

All in all, State of Decay: Year One Edition is a minor embarrassment on the XBox One. Sure, there's fun to be had, if you fancy building a community, smashing in zombies and looking around, but for a next gen console, this retro hit doesn't quite cut it.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Thrilling Adventure Hour Auckland show

Thrilling Adventure Hour Auckland show

The Thrilling Adventure Hour just played its first and only show in Auckland, before heading to Wellington this weekend for its last live shows ever with the Workjuice players.

Here are some shots of the extremely talented and funny cast at work.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour plays Wellington's Opera House for shows on Friday and Saturday. 

Jurassic World - The Stunts

Jurassic World - The Stunts

Jurassic World roars open on June 11th and here's a reason why Chris Pratt's proving to be so popular.