Friday, 30 September 2011


Sorry for the lack of posts over the past few days, uni's kept me busy. This'll just be another trailer, but I'll work on something more substantial over the weekend. Probably.

The trailer's for Syndicate, apparently. I've never heard of the series before, but it appears to have been some kind of vaguely strategy-styled games developed by Bullfrog in the 90s - forgive my ignorance if I'm wrong here, I genuinely only heard about this series a few days ago. The trailer for the new game makes it fairly clear that the series has made a change to first person shooters. It looks to be a step beyond the generic sci-fi shooter, with some interesting features.

And also dubstep. Hm.

I'll certainly be keeping an eye on this, but I don't think it counts as a 'must buy' at this point.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Hunt Is On

This post is going to be short, and there's a good reason for that.

That reason is The Hunter. Mastodon's newest is great, with a catchier edge to the proggier Mastodon. It's a showcase of so many types of songs, a rollercoaster ride of emotions, and yet it stays coherent. This is a genuinely fascinating album.

Seriously, listen to this album. The band have removed it from Youtube since the album's release (aaaaw), but trust me on this - it's amazing.

In fact, I'm going to go listen to it again. Fuck yeah!

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Darkness 2

Another trailer time. This time for the Darkness 2.

For those who aren't aware, the Darkness was a shooter a few years back based on one of the old 'classic antihero' comics. It was fantastically dark, with brilliant combat and an incredible sense of atmosphere. Unfortunately, it faded somewhat into obscurity, so consider it a hidden gem of sorts. The sequel's been announced, and this trailer comes with a Woody Allen narration interspersed with comicbook style art and some of the gruesome combat the game will, hopefully, feature.

Word of Warning: There are some serious spoilers here for the original game. Don't watch this if you intend to play it.

So, colour me excited, I guess. I really enjoyed the first game (one of the first games I got on a current gen console, actually), so I'm really looking forward to this. If you're looking for something a bit more visceral and dark than your standard shooter fare, well - you might have found it.

In other, unrelated news, I picked up a copy of Mastodon's The Hunter (while looking for Opeth's Heritage, but oh well), so I'll probably write up a post on that sometime soon.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Not So Dramatic?

A look at Dream Theater's 'A Dramatic Turn of Events.'

An apt title, though the reason why it is apt is apparently not why it was chosen. Dream Theater’s newest album came out recently, and I picked it up (there’s a lot of good albums coming out around now, with Opeth and Mastodon’s latest opuses being on my wanted list as well). I managed to get the collector’s edition, because, once again, my local HMV refused to stock anything else. So I get an extra 60 minute discography (remember the whole ‘search for a new drummer’ thing they posted on Youtube?) and, I think, instrumentals of the tracks. Truth be told, I haven’t spent much time with the second disc, so I’m still not sure as to its contents, but that isn’t what matters now.

I’ll avoid discussing the whole almost-eponymous situation regarding the departure of Mike Portnoy and the introduction of new drummer Mike Mangini. There’s been plenty of coverage of that, and anything I say would just be a rehashing. Simply put, this post will focus on the music itself.

The album definitely opens on a strong note, in particular 'On The Backs Of Angels, which is a very good song. It’s classic Dream Theater, taking all that’s good with previous songs and extending it. It’s the same with every song – classic Dream Theater. And can it really be a bad thing if a brilliant band continue to do what makes them so good?

Well… yes. There’s little to make this album stand out. Their best albums had Dream Theater making changes to their sound both subtle and overt, and, when it worked, it made them stand out – it was these little flairs which made these albums so great. ‘A Dramatic Turn of Events’ lacks this uniqueness. This is, perhaps, the sound of a band who has found a comfortable place and begun to grow complacent, a band who has grown afraid of risk-taking. This is a bad thing in pretty much any situation, but it is an atrocity in progressive music which is focused on doing something new, on change, on progressing – it’s there in the fucking title!

In truth, I expected this. The band chose the safe route with Mangini – he’s a good drummer, yes, but my fear is, and has always been that his style is too close to Portnoy’s. It’s hard to blame them, really – if they’d changed, fans would have been furious, claiming the new drummer has ruined the band or other such inane statements. So, in the end, they played it safe.

Don’t get me wrong. I like this album – it’s a good listen. Genuinely, it’s fun. But, apart from ‘…Angels’ and ‘Lost Not Forgotten’ (a delightful song), there is nothing that stands out. It’s good, but nothing outstanding, and, for that, it pales in comparison to previous albums. And that’s damning for a band that is the pioneer of a genre that, at a base level at least, frowns on complacency. Dream Theater have become what so many other ‘Prog’ bands have become – competent, indeed, excellent, musicians, who copy the genre leaders. In this case, they’re copying their own formula, and avoiding innovation in the process. I’m definitely going to listen to this album some more, but I don’t see it lasting as long as other albums. It lacks that little… spark of genius that makes a classic.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Return, and D&D

This'll be the third introduction post I've made. Fun Fact #1 - These make up more than a quarter of my posts! Fun Fact #2 - I'm shit at blogging!

This time I'm gonna be more realistic. I'm gonna aim for a post every two days, a lengthier post every week. Maybe. We'll see. I need to work it round my new university schedule. I've got a few ideas kicking about so, at the very least, this should stay afloat for a bit longer than last time, which was a dismal failure.

Onto more topical news - Dungeons and Dragons! Or rather, not the pen and paper game itself, but the various videogames based on it. Good Old Games is having a sale on 9 of the 'classic' D&D games. These stretch from the classics (Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale series, Neverwinter Nights Platinum), to the cult classics (Planescape, The Temple of Elemental Evil). There's also a few relative unknowns that never quite reached the lofty heights of cult classic-dom - Dragonshard and Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone, which, to the best of my memory, doesn't actually feature demons.

I cannot personally attest to the quality of Temple of Elemental Evil or Dragonshard, but the others are all fantastic RPGs (or hack-and-slash games in the case of Demon Stone). Some of the games on sale here are generally considered among the most prestigious RPGs out there, and the others are all high quality. Of course, the best are, undoubtedly the Baldur's Gate series and the fantastically unique Planescape, but the others are definitely worth a look, and are just as capable of eating up countless hours.

Be aware, though, these games are dated. The graphics are very simplistic nowadays, and the isometric viewpoint can be rather disorienting to those more accustomed to modern, 3D graphics. The gameplay can be rather slow at times, and the story-focus can drag compared to modern games. Trust me, these are fantastic games, but they are old and a world away from modern games. The sale itself is interesting, with the more you buy the more you save, which has some potential. Find the sale here, it's on until the end of Monday.