Marvel at the Cinematic Universe

Marvel’s franchise of films has dominated the box office year after year. With sixteen films so far and an array of TV shows making up what we call the Marvel Cinematic Universe I’d like to explore it’s various components released so far an speculate on what we may see in the future.

As I write this I’m wondering how exactly am I going to review such a vast collection, I think the process needs to be somewhat organic. I plan to use this post as an anchor point journeying through each phase (of which there are three so far), reviewing each film individually with an accompanying prologue/epilogue for each overall phase.

I’ve come to think three phases we have so far as the acts of a story; Setup, Confrontation and Resolution. Phase One focuses on origin stories for our heroes, Phase Two steps beyond this and allows the characters to develop in a mixed and often volatile environment where as Phase Three will resolve the ever embedded ark of Thanos’s plan to collect the Infinity Stones and presumably rule the galaxy.

So let us begin our journey, the first phase awaits…

Thanos Chair

Typoman Review

Typoman

During a Nintendo Direct back in November I caught sight of an indie game named Typoman for the WiiU by Brainseed Factory. A blend between Super Meat Boy and Scribblenauts this delightful little game exceeded my expectations and kept me on my toes for several hours.

GrabThe idea of the game is that you will generally see what you have to do in order to progress. Grabbing hold of letters and swinging between them soon turns into more of a puzzle, you’ll be rearranging letters (often within a time limit) racing to find the correct word before you’re killed by a monster. Continue reading

What’s That Coming Over the Hill? – Thoughts on the Evolve Alpha

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So Turtle Rock Studios (the guys behind Left 4 Dead), headed off from Valve and decided to make a 4v1 game where one player takes on the role of the monster and the other four are hunters working together to track, trap and kill the monster. Whilst the hunters do their job the Monster is given a few options to win the game, either killing the hunters outright or munching on wildlife and evolving to the point it can destroy a generator on the level. Whilst the game comes out in February 2015 those pre-ordering the game or lucky enough to obtain a code have been able to play an Alpha Test the past weekend. Due to some initial problems the Alpha’s been extended until the 4th.

Kraken 1After playing the game for a while I couldn’t help but feel like it was an epic game of Pong, each side using their abilities to the best of their… uh ability, until one side wins the game. There are 4 hunter classes, each with their own advantage over the monster. When working together this group can effectively defend and take down the monster but if one or more players slip up they’ll be a lot more vulnerable to attacks from the monster. The Monster player needs to make the best use of their abilities too, be it fire breath, throwing rocks or electrocuting enemies from above. Players can earn perks for their character over the course of many games much like Battlefield’s progression system. They can also unlock variants of their class giving access to slightly different weapons, or unlock an entirely new monster capable of a different style of gameplay. Continue reading

Alien: Isolation Review

Alien

As I step slowly into the room I raise my motion tracker to see if there’s any sign of movement. There’s none. It’s not here, at least I don’t think it’s here. I keep low to minimise the sound I make, scan the desks for anything I can make use of. Anything that will help me survive. I hear it. I move quickly but quietly to a locker just ahead of me, crawl inside and wait in silence. That sound it makes, it’s getting closer. It’s in the room with me. I keep still, my eyes fixated on it as it searches. Does it know I’m here? Is it toying with me? As it leaves the room I hear it scuttle away into an air duct. Relieved, for just a second, I come out of the locker and head towards my destination. It won’t be long now, I’ve nearly made it out of here…

I consider running as I’m so close but I’m scared the noise will bring it right back. So I stay low, stay quiet and keep moving. There are no doors ahead except for the exit I so desperately need to reach, the only way it can get me is if it comes up behind me. Still won’t run, don’t want to mess this up. My heart rate lowers, I turn around to make sure it isn’t following, if it is i’ve got enough in my flamethrower to scare it off once, maybe twice? I move backwards towards the exit. I hear a noise and look up. Before I even realise what’s happened it has me. I scream but even if anyone does hear me it’s no use. I’m dead.

All this has happened before, and all this will happen again…

That’s the nature of Alien: Isolation. You learn from your mistakes (and you will make them), and realise that Alien: Isolation isn’t one of those Alien games you’ve played before where you slaughter Xeno after Xeno. There’s only one here, and absolutely nothing you do will kill it. Continue reading

Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer Released Early

So the trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron was supposed to be released following the 6th episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D on the 28th of October. Seems someone had different plans and decides to leak the trailer themselves.

Marvel’s response? 

I, like I assume many others, refused to watch the trailer (in my head for a nanosecond)… and watched the leak. But what happened next was even more unexpected. Marvel released the trailer themselves! None of that Hydra-quality stuff either, it’s now available in full HD as shown below.

I love Marvel’s response to the leak, it mirrors the comedy elements that helped me fall in love with the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the first place. When the trailer for Batman vs Superman leaked online during Comic-Con they did nothing but attempt to remove all traces of it. If they had any sense they’d release said teaser trailer themselves right now to show Marvel they have fans too! Enjoy the trailer and don’t forget to clean up the puddle of drool you leave after watching.

Meridian: New World – Developer Interview with Ede Tarsoly

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Yesterday I reviewed the Steam Early Access game Meridian: New World, an indie RTS made on the most part by a single developer. Here’s an interview with the game’s developer Ede Tarsoly where we discuss his thoughts on RTS as a genre in the game industry today, his experience with Early Access and his ambitions for the future.

Sky: What have been your favorite RTS games and what do you think about the decline of RTS games over the years? Also curious if you played Command and Conquer 4? It’s removal of base building put a lot of CnC fans off. What did you think of that fundamental change?

Ede Tarsoly: My favorite RTS games include StarCraft, earlier C&C games, as well as Earth 2150. The decline in the RTS genre can be mostly attributed to the emergence of MOBA games, which are basically simplified RTS titles.

I’ve played C&C4, and like many others, I was disappointed that it no longer has the base building component.

Sky: I see a lot of comments on the ambitions of a “one man RTS”, many thought it impossible. Did you ever feel this way during development?

Ede Tarsoly: To be honest, I already had experience designing strategy games, so I knew I could do this, the only question was how much time it would take. It already takes longer than I anticipated.

Sky: Between missions you’re given almost Mass Effect style conversations with the crew and the ability to explore the ship. How important was it that this content made the Steam Early Access release and why?

Ede Tarsoly: I consider storytelling one of the most important aspects of any game and these little sequences between missions allowed me to be able to tell Meridian’s story in an interactive and fun way (while still keeping most of it optional). The reason why I included this in the Early Access phase is that I wanted to see how people would react and like this aspect, as well as the fact that story-related choices can be made with real effects on actual RTS gameplay.

Sky: How has Steam Early Access been for you so far? Were you tempted to delay until the game was finished or did you know this was the release method you had in mind?

Ede Tarsoly: It was the publisher’s idea to release Meridian as an Early Access title. I was reluctant at first, because I knew about the bad reputation that Early Access titles have. I treated Early Access like final release, I made the game as bug-free as possible and hoped for the best. I have to say, it actually paid off in the end. I got a lot of feedback about certain features that could not have been altered after final release, but I can work on them now.

Sky: The 3rd mission ‘Frozen Plains’ featured a segment where you’re restricted to building to turrets and the occasional non-controllable chimera. This essentially transformed the game into a tower defense, one I thought was really fun to play! Are there any plans to add more tower defense segments and have you considered creating a pure tower defence game? I think there’s great potential here!

Ede Tarsoly: My main game-design principle is to never include the same game mechanic twice in a campaign, so it definitely won’t happen again in the campaign. However, it would be possible to create a tower defence game with the game’s editor and scripting tool, so who knows? Maybe one day someone makes one, or I make an official one.

Sky: What are your plans for the future? Obviously there’s further content to release for Meridian: New World (next set of missions soon right?), what would you ideally like to be doing afterwards?

Ede Tarsoly: Yes, Meridian still has a lot of unreleased missions. As for what comes after that… well, there are two things I’d really like to do, one is a single player expansion explaining the origins of Squad 22 mentioned during the campaign, the other would be a multiplayer expansion. This is all very uncertain at the moment though, nothing is set in stone. I might end up working on an entirely unrelated project.

Thanks to Ede for his time discussing his game. I really enjoyed my time playing the missions so far and will definitely be keeping an eye on the game as it releases new content, you can check out my review here.

Meridian: New World can be found on Steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/265120/

Game Review – Meridian: New World (Early Access)

Base Assault

Meridian: New World is an indie RTS game capable of making you stare in disbelief when you realize it’s been made on the most part… by one man.

The game looks beautiful, very polished and plays great. There’s base building, an array of units to vanquish your enemy and a pretty compelling campaign even if it’s still in progress. New missions however are released frequently (missions 4 and 5 released as I was reviewing), and they not only expand the story but give the player new tactics with which to play. It’s content like this that makes me want to check out future updates, I genuinely want to see what the developer will throw at me next.

So first let’s take a look at the campaign. You take on the role of commander Daniel Hanson leading the first expedition to a new planet named Merdian. What you encounter there isn’t entirely clear but it soon becomes obvious you’re not alone. Not only do you detect a distress signal from the presumed uninhabited planet, but there are troops and structures on the ground. Your crew might not be comprised of ‘your’ crew and things are pretty much going to hell. Not exactly the idea expedition but it makes for one hell of a game.

Continue reading