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Cobra Kai – Strikes Hard!

The Premise

Cobra Kai is a ten episode tv series which touches back on the lives of Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) over 30 years after we got to see them in ‘The Karate Kid’. It can be considered a comedy drama and has scored 9/10 on IMDB and 100% on Rotten Tomatoes which is quite an achievement.

 

What Works

The idea of focusing again on these characters years later is genius. Truth be told, as a child, the karate kid was one of my favorite movies growing up. This is not a sequel nor a reboot of the movie. It’s a continuation of a story that is worth telling and involves familiar characters who have changed over the years. It’s refreshing and smartly written and I wouldn’t be shocked if we see a slew of writers jumping on the band wagon and following suit with other franchises from the past.

 

Johnny Rotten?

The story focuses mainly on Johnny (The villain from the first film). His life hasn’t turned out the way he’d have liked and he seems down on his luck which makes the viewer feel sympathy for him. In stark contrast to that, Daniel (Hero from the first film) is a successful businessman and still famous is his hometown. With some clever writing, we instantly dislike our original hero and route for the villainous underdog. A great premise for any show.

 

Character Growth

A great premise can lead to a good sketch or short movie but can’t sustain a tv series. Luckily, again praise to the writers, nothing is black and white in Cobra Kai. We get to see lots of character growth from both Johnny & Danny but also from all supporting characters too. Good guys do bad things and bad guys do good things painting a more realistic picture for the viewers and more importantly, keeps you coming back for more. One or two character arcs felt a bit rushed (I won’t go in to spoilers) but mainly each character got enough love, care and attention. Watching Johnny in particular starting to believe in something is genuinely moving.

 

Class Act

It’s very clear from the start that this series is a passion project for both Johnny & Daniel as they take their roles very seriously. Having not seen either of them on screen since the eighties it’s admirable to see them give moving performances in their roles. This is not a big budget, special effects driven series. This is built on a shoe-string budget and relies heavily on it’s characters to carry each scene. It works wonderfully. It feels small and intimate but never cheap.

 

End on a High

Again, I’m going to avoid spoilers so I can’t say much about the end unless I stay extremely vague. It was satisfying and bitter-sweet. Again, with clever writing (have I mentioned that before) it brought some characters to uncomfortable realizations and it’s unclear where they’ll go from there but it will definitely be exciting to see.

 

YouTube Red

My only gripe with this series isn’t a gripe against it at all. Simply put, this needs to get seen by as many people as possible. YouTube Red just isn’t a popular enough platform for something this good. It has been green lit for a Season 2 which is brilliant as I’m dying to see what they do next. I only wish a bigger broadcaster had picked them up for season 2. This is as good as anything you’ll see on Netflix or Amazon and deserves as many eyes on it as possible

 

Do you agree? Did you enjoy it or were you disappointed? Let me know in the comments below

Cyberpunk 2077 : Bring the Hype!

‘CD Projeckt Red’ are possibly the most famous games developers at the moment. ‘The Witcher 3’ is considered one of the greatest games of this generation and millions of gamers have be clamoring for their next big title. So what do we now know about the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077??

As the title suggests, it’s set in the future with similar ascetics to famous films like ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘The Fifth Element’. It’s based on a book called ‘Cyberpunk 2020’ but it’s not certain yet how closely it will follow it. The book itself outlined a vast and detailed world so ‘CD Projekt Red’ can basically play out any story they want which is great for creativeness.

1st Person Perspective

This got a lot of people angry for some reason. I guess because ‘The Witcher 3’ was a third person view, everyone believed their next title would follow suit. I place my faith in the developers that they know what they’re doing. At it’s core, it’s an RPG but it will also be a 1st person shooter and as long as these mechanics gel well together, we could have a brilliant game on our hands.

50 minutes of Gameplay

Some journalists have been lucky enough to watch 50 minutes of gameplay footage and the general consensus is that this is a game to watch out for. The gun play as mentioned above looks very slick and satisfying. There are ‘bullet time’ effects made available through augmentation which I’ll cover shortly. The cover shooting and action on screen was said to be very impressive and traversing around enemies to get off sneaky kill shots is meant to be a lot of fun, adding style and flair to the game.

Third Person View

Although primarily 1st person, the camera will go to third person for cut scenes and you can also choose to drive around the city in third person view which is great. Exploring a huge open worlds at top speeds in what looks like ‘Kit’ from ‘Knightrider’ on steroids is bound to be a whole heap of fun!

Character Creation

Your character is named ‘V’ but the rest is up to you. You pick gender and appearance before starting the game making your character unique to you. Admittedly, I wish we had a strong protagonist like ‘Geralt’ to command but again I trust the developers know what they’re doing

Augmentation

You can upgrade yourself, make yourself stronger etc through augmentation. This sounds very similar to Deus Ex and that’s not a bad thing. Upgrading your melee combat, gun combat and hacking skills through body implants sounds very sci-fi and a great way to make your own character adaptable to your play style

Story – Or lack of one

This is where we don’t have a lot to go on. We know it’s primarily set in the futuristic ‘Night City’ and that our character isn’t aligned with any gangs (at least not to start with anyway) which reminds me of the outsider vibe ‘Geralt’ was famous for. The world is run by mega corporations rather than government so corruption and money seem to rule the day. Apart from that….we don’t know much. ‘Cd Projekt Red’ are infamous for their fleshed out characters, detailed side quests, interesting back stories & amazing narrative plots. I can only hope they bring all these strengths into their new game…..I suspect they will.

Are you excited for Cyberpunk 2077? With no release date, can you predict when we’ll get to play it? Let me know in the comments below

Is VR Dead Already??

Like a lot of other PSVR owners, I was eagerly awaiting E3 and perhaps the promise of some killer games to come. Also like so many others, I was let down. We have had all the main conferences at this stage and there has been little mention of VR in general. Is this the final nail in the coffin for this ‘gimmick’?

 

Hopefully not! I love my VR and although the games haven’t changed the world or become ‘must have’ titles, they have been a big ‘ol pile of fun. I want VR to stay and more importantly, I want it to have an impact on the games industry and beyond. More units out to more people and more developers working with the platform to make it a success.

 

Is it too late?

After E3 it’s cleat that Sony and other developers aren’t pointing a spotlight on VR anymore. That doesn’t mean the end but rather a smarter option by all as it’s simply not as big as everyone would have liked. On the game floor, Sony will showcase 14 PSVR titles so I can only hope we get some promising game footage over the next few days. Will there be a game that is worth buying a headset for? Probably not but things aren’t as bleak as they might seem

 

Future of VR

If I’ve learned anything about VR over the last two years, it’s that gaming isn’t going to make people rush out and buy a headset. I think if it’s to have a big impact, social apps or sports is where the draw is for people. All the people out there who watch sports or use Facebook could potentially be offered a more enhanced experience through VR. If you offer that and at the right price, you’re bound to have a lot more investors

 

World Cup 2018

BBC have committed to broadcasting every matching not only in 4k but also in VR. We’ll get to see in the next day or two if this is as great as it sounds but the premise is definitely tantilizing. Imagine sitting behind the goal mouth watching football…….or better yet, at a set designed coffee table in virtual reality where stats pop up enchancing your experience. If this is successful…I can see a bright future for the medium.

 

Beyond the World Cup

Imagine watching a boxing match from ringside where at the touch of a button, you can change your view to overhead, or from ring-post or even from the Ref’s point of view. Take that same idea and apply it to anything you love. Wrestling, Golf, Concerts, Stand-up Shows, Chat Shows, Formula 1…..the list goes on. What if you got to view F1 from inside your favorite driver’s cockpit. What if you got to stand beside Rory McElroy as he tees off, able to look in all directions. What if you could view the crowd at Glastonbury from the main stage as your favorite band performed all around you!

 

Not only is everything above possible, it’s very profitable. Instead of selling one ringside seat, they leave that space clear for a camera and sell that seat to thousands of viewers. It seems to me like a no brainer!

 

So here’s hoping the BBC World Cup 2018 VR experience is successful and here’s hoping that it leads to a bright future for Virtual Reality!!

 

Sony Press Conference E3 2018

 

The one I was waiting for. Did it take the crown for best conference? Did it surpass the excellent Microsoft presentation? Let’s find out!

 

The Setup

Prior to the the conference. Sony came out and said they would mostly be focused on four games and not much else. The four games in question were ‘Last of Us Part 2’, ‘Death Stranding’, ‘Spiderman’ & ‘Ghost of Tsushima’. There was lots of chatter and conspiracy theories that this was some misdirection from Sony but they pretty much stuck to their guns with only a couple of surprises.

 

The Low Point

Need to get this out of the way. The conference opened on weird barn/church style stage. Shawn Layden came out and his mic seemed a bit distorted. Then we were given a banjo intro which was an extended version of The Last of Us theme music. This for me went on too long! Then we got a cut scene and game play footage from the game (I’ll cover this below). After this, we cut away to an outside panel while the audience were moved to a different stage. This was baffling and really killed momentum. There was a scary moment where I thought they might do these scene changes between each of the four main games but luckily that wasn’t the case. After a few minutes of filler and a couple of good announcements we returned to a more traditional conference (to everyone’s relief). I liked that they tried something new but this clearly fell flat.

 

The Highlight

Pretty much everything else. This was really solid. They did focus mostly on four games which was amazing as these four games are absolutely stunning. In contrast to Microsoft’s barrage of games….Sony showcased essential purchases that aren’t years away. They all had game play footage and are real games not too far away. Announcements are great and I think Microsoft have a bright future but Sony continue to crush it here and now! So let’s cover the four main games :

 

Last of Us Part 2

Opening with a warm and emotional cut scene, we got to see amazing graphics with fantastic voice acting and great script writing. Following that, we got an absolutely amazing, gorgeous, brutally violent game play scene. The graphics are absolutely better than anything I’ve seen before. All the animations are on point and the sheer visceral action on screen was intense and slightly terrifying. An absolute showstopper. Can’t wait to see more

 

Ghost of Tsushima

Wow. Having not seen much bar a teaser trailer prior to E3, this game is coming along nicely. The visuals are stunning with incredibly detailed and gorgeous vistas on display. The action and swordplay was to a cinematic level and the game seems to play very smoothly. Sucker Punch are a very talented studio and seeing how well this game is developing, they are clearly working overtime. I wasn’t excited for this game before this but now I am.

 

Death Stranding

Shockingly we got some game play footage which was basic (Norman wandering around different backdrops mostly) However, the background environments looked very detailed and beautiful. The parts of the story/narrative we got to see were as confusing as they were intriguing in typical Kojima fashion. This looks bat shit crazy and I have no idea what it’s about but that’s half the fun!

 

Spiderman

The one nearest completion, only three months from launch, this looks so so good. We got a great chunk of game play set in a frenetic prison break set piece. The action was solid and the fast pace was almost breathtaking as Spidey glided though environments crumbling all around. The visuals were on point too and the variety shown in fighting moves and parkour was also very impressive. We got to see Peter go up against four major villians throughout a chase sequence all the while, the ‘main villian’ is kept secret from us. The trailer finishes out with Peter looking up (off camera) at the mastermind behind it all and were all left wondering who it is. A brilliant tease!

 

Small Surprises

In between our four main games, we got a few other bits and pieces. Black Ops 3 is now free for Ps plus subscribers. Resident Evil 2 remake is out in January (it looks amazing). Remedy Entertainment a once Microsoft only studio are working on a new game call Control which looks impressive. Squanch Games have another bizarre and funny title coming called ‘Trover saves the Universe’ which will also be VR compatible. That wasn’t all but they were the highlights.

 

Overall

Extremely impressed by this conference. The set change stuff was definitely a mis-step but it undeniable that Sony have the best line up of exclusives for us to look forward to. As I mentioned earlier, Microsoft have potential to create some special games in the future but Sony are absolutely King at the moment and for exclusive alone…it reigns supreme right now!

 

 

What was your favorite conference? With Nintendo still to come, are we in for more surprises? What games were noticeably absent this year? More to come!

Microsoft E3 Press Conference 2018

 

Starting out, Microsoft are very much coming from behind in this generation’s console race. With Sony having shipped nearly double the amount of Ps4s compared to Microsoft’s Xbox. This press conference was vital to show fans what lies ahead for the future of Microsoft and Xbox. So did it deliver??

 

By all accounts, Yes, yes it did! Microsoft hit us with game after game (50 titles in total) and kept the talkie bits down to a minimum. They have been criticized since the launch of the Xbox One for not having enough exclusive games and the 1st party games they’ve launched in the past haven’t wowed anyone. From this conference….it looks like they corrected their course and have a bright future.

 

Highlights

As mentioned, showing off games was smart and very necessary. We got new entries on all the big Xbox titles that helped make the last generation such a success. A new Halo, new Gears of War (three if you count the smaller gears titles mentioned), new Devil May Cry, New Metro, new Tomb Raider. These are all solid franchises that will help bolster Microsoft’s games catalog. Not all were given launch dates but still there was enough to get viewers excited about the future.

That wasn’t all. We had some smart additional content mentioned for existing titles. DLC for CupHead. New game mode and map for PUBG & much needed additonal content for Sea of Thieves.

 

Low Points

Not too many. As I mentioned, they let the games do the talking and didn’t get bogged down with long speeches. I think Crackdown 3 being delayed yet again until 2019 is a bit of a gut punch as there a very few exclusive games to play on Xbox at the moment. Also, for me, they spent too long on Forza. I feel they focus on Forza at every conference and it gets too much air time as it’s a game that doesn’t interest me. That’s just me though, perhaps other viewers are excited to see it.

Game Pass : This is a brilliant idea but I felt like they undersold it at the conference. They have three new-ish titles added but it still felt underwhelming. If they can grow their subscription base and keep adding excellent title to their library, Game Pass will become an essential purchase for any Xbox owner. They should be shouting this from the rooftops!

 

New Studios…..New Console……New Streaming?

The biggest news came towards the end of the conference. Phil Spencer spoke confidently about studios they had just bought. Five studios in total and each one with a lot of promise. For me ‘Ninja Theory’ & ‘Compulsion Games’ being the most interesting. I think we’ll see some very high quality exclusives coming from Microsoft in the future.

Phil also mentioned that they were deep into development on a new console. This is no shock to anyone as the current generation seems to be coming to the end of it’s cycle for both Microsoft and Sony. No other details were given though which is a shame.

Lastly, he touched briefly on what I can only imagine as a cloud based games streaming service? Probably the most interesting idea and if successful, will change how everyone plays games. Being able to play AAA titles on any device would attract any enthusiast. However, I can’t see them introducing anything too soon as they want to ship consoles and by their own admission, they’ve a new console coming that I’m sure they’ll want to sell too, right? An interesting concept nonetheless and intriguing to mention it so briefly at this early stage.

 

ShowStopper

Just to put the cherry on top. The show finished out with the first ever trailer for Cyberpunk 2077. Although we still know very little about the game, the fact that CD Projekt Red are making it is enough to get most people excited. The world they show in the trailer looks vibrant and violent and violet! I can’t wait to see more

 

So there you go! For me Microsoft nailed it! Now lets see what Sony can do…….more to come!

 

E3 2018 – Paul’s Crazy Predictions

 

With the largest games expo just under a week away (June 12th-14th), I thought it might be fun to make five predictions about the upcoming show. Some are based on educated guesses and some are pure wish fulfillment. I’ve kept it to five predictions so here we go :

Death Stranding Game Play Trailer

 

I am certain we will have more from Hideo Kojima’s most hyped project at E3 this year. Hopefully it will be an actual game play trailer, if not I’d expect a theatrical trailer at the very least. Either of which will probably be just as confusing as everything that has come before! I expect to know even less about what Death Stranding is all about after E3 but I love it. Kojima is the master of hype and misdirection.

 

 

Last of Us 2 Game Play

 

Hopefully after a couple of teasers of the last two years, we get to see some game play footage during the Sony Conference. As it’s their heavy hitter, it will most likely either open the conference of finish it out at the end. I doubt we’ll get a specific release date but perhaps we’ll get a season/year date such as Fall 2019. Would love to see some game play however I do think with a game as big as this, less is more! They don’t need to oversell it as everybody is already hyped for it. Giving us a release date would be amazing

 

Rockstar show up?

 

This is a long shot! Rockstar notoriously avoid E3 and all other events come to think of it. They are so large and successful that they don’t need the hype and tend to make their own announcements. That said, E3’s timing is perfect to leak a new trailer for upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2. Due to release in October, it would make perfect sense to drop a game play trailer now and E3 is a massive platform to do it on. Again as I mentioned, this would go against what Rockstar normally do but we can hope right?

Microsoft finish their Conference with Anthem

 

As they’ve done before. I predict Microsoft finish out their conference with a new game play trailer for Anthem. Anthem is there last big trump card to play on this generation and it would make sense to save a big heavy hitter until the end. This time though, they’ll need a more substantial trailer with game play and I predict it will also finish with a release date. I do think Microsoft have been flailing in second place throughout this console generation and most of their first party stuff have not hit the mark. Hopefully Anthem can change that and earn them back some love. A release date would definitely get the crowd pumped.

Playstation show a VR Sizzle Reel

 

This is probably the safest prediction on the list. Sony have pushed VR at every conference lately. VR seems to be under performing unfortunately. I would love to see it flourish. It feels a little like this is the last chance to give it a good push although perhaps I’m being dramatic. Regardless, I predict they will show a sizzle reel with a mash-up of all the upcoming VR titles yet to be released this year. Some will be known such as ‘Blood & Truth’ and ‘Golem’ and others will be new ones we haven’t seen before (and hopefully they’ll look amazing and worth having).

 

So that’s my five! I had so many more but tried to reign myself in! What are your predictions? Is Crash Team Racing being remastered? Can we expect a sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn? Are Rocksteady working on a Superman game? Will PS5 get announced?

All food for thought! Do you agree with my list or do you have some of your own. Comment below and let me know