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Tag Archives: Star Wars

*Spoiler Warning*

Rogue One is the Star Wars Rebels finale we’ll now never get and it’s all the weaker for it. I shan’t lie, I wasn’t much of a fan of the film and a large part of that was that I didn’t care for the characters. In Rebels we have a crew that we already love and care about a great deal. So much of Rogue One’s story could easily have been theirs.

The parallels between the Rogue One and Rebels cast are fairly easy to make and not just because of physical resemblance. Many of the ultimate fates of the Rogue One cast would have been perfect for the Rebels characters. And I don’t just mean because they all die. For example, Donnie Yen’s character, Chirrut Îmwe, could easily have been Kanan. Not just for the blindness, but because that’s the sort of thing he’d do. Then, instead of having someone forgettable like Baze Malbus covering him, have it be Rex. Their deaths now mean something and feels like the natural conclusion to their characters arcs and relationship.

Swap out K-2SO for Chopper, Bodhi Rook for Hera, Jyn for Ezra and Cassian for Sabine and to my mind you now have a decent story with characters you care about. Now, they’re not exact analogues but tweak the story ever so slightly and it works. Ezra gets a message saying his parents weren’t killed, but were instead used as slave labour on the Death Star and somehow have managed to find out where the plans are. Hera stays with the Ghost on Scarif and goes down with the ship while Chopper sacrifices himself like K-2SO does, locking the door behind Ezra and Sabine.

The rest of the story then unfolds largely as it does in the film, only with Cassian now being Sabine we don’t get the Rebel Alliance being responsible murky shit like assassinations. I get that they wanted to make the movie “dark” but The Empire Strikes Back was dark without compromising the good guys integrity. We also know Saw Gerrara will be in Rebels season three, so we’ll actually have got to see him be an extremist rather than just be told he is.

With the nods to Rebels in Rogue One I’m sure that it’ll tie in quite closely further down the line, but imagine if Disney had kept their powder dry. As a culmination to the Rebels story it could’ve been incredibly powerful and one hell of a gut punch. Instead we got one of the biggest missed opportunities in Star Wars’ history.

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Well this is a pleasure. Being able to write a review on a Star Wars film that I not only enjoyed, but that was also a good film in its own right.

A great deal of what makes The Force Awakens stand out is due to the new cast. In Rey, Finn and Poe there’s a new trio that’s also immediately likeable, but different enough from Han, Luke and Leia. Many of my preconceptions of what these characters would be like turned out to be completely wrong. Poe is no Han Solo for instance. Yes he wisecracks but that’s about it. After Finn helps him escape, he’s supportive, reassuring and trusting. There’s no cynicism in him. He may be, as Oscar Isaac said “the best goddamn pilot in the galaxy,”, but he’s also a believer in the Resistance and in people.

To go any further without mentioning the incredible Daisy Ridley would be a disservice both to her and to the film. The character of Rey may well be one of my favourites of the whole saga. Whilst it would be easy (and correct) to draw many parallels between her and Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, she’s no clone. There’s no whining here. Instead we find a capable young woman making her way. The moment she embraces her destiny is not only the best part of the film, but one of the best in the series.

There’s also an emotional punch that for the prequels were often a swing and a miss. Adam Driver does a marvellous job as Kylo Ren, showing inner conflict in a far more convincing manner than Hayden Christensen ever managed with Anakin. Yes there’s the temper tantrums when things don’t go his way, but there’s a fear factor that echoes Vader rather than his moping alter ego.

Crucially, there’s an atmosphere to The Force Awakens that distinguishes it from the Prequels. It feels much more like the lived-in universe of the Originals. Much has been made of the use of practical effects in the production and rightly so. There’s an ideal balance between the practical and the digital that makes what your seeing feel both real and fantastical.

None of this is to say the film itself is perfect. As good as the special effects are, certain parts of CGI are a bit off, primarily Andy Serkis’ character, Supreme Leader Snoke. Think Arnold Vosloo in The Mummy before he gets all his bits back and you’re not far wrong. Fingers crossed that gets worked on before the inevitable larger role in Episode VIII.

It’s not just the odd bit of CGI that detract from the film either. As many have pointed out, the film borrows liberally from A New Hope. Viewed from a distance it can at times feel more like a remake than a sequel. I imagine watching the films is order may result in a major case of deja vu. I will say that a second viewing made this far less of a problem for me.

The sequence after Rey and Finn escape Jakku and are picked up by Han and Chewie also feels superfluous. JJ Abrams is a bugger for a monster set piece and I shan’t hold that indulgence against him, but it doesn’t really contribute to the story beyond giving Han and Chewie something to do.

As an overall experience, The Force Awakens is a triumphant return to form. How it compares to the Original Trilogy only time will tell, but on first impressions it probably sits at number 3, just behind Empire and Jedi. It certainly feels like a set up for the rest of the trilogy, far more than A New Hope or The Phantom Menace did for theirs. As a result it feels less self-contained and perhaps can only be truly judged once VIII and IX are out. May 2017 never felt so far away.

4/5

You’ve seen the trailers, the posters, the TV spots and the toys, yet with a week to go before The Force Awakens opens we’re still none the wiser what part Luke Skywalker will play. Chances are it’ll be an Obi-Wan style role, considering the facial fuzz Mark Hamill’s been sporting of late. Yet there are some corners of the internet where they think he may well be the villain. Some even think he’s Kylo Ren (presumably Adam Driver is there to look pretty). Worse still they even think Evil!Luke is a good thing. Let me tell you why that’d be the worst thing to happen to Star Wars since Attack of the Clones.

Cast your mind back to 1983 and Return of the Jedi. In what is arguably the best part of the whole Star Wars saga, Luke rejects the Dark Side. This isn’t some cursory rejection, one that you can go back to and reconsider. vlcsnap-2015-12-10-00h38m31s724It’s wholesale and, in the context of the film, absolute. Throughout the whole of the Original Trilogy Luke had grown stronger in the Force. With that came the temptations of the Dark Side. Not only that, but finding out that Vader is his father at the end of Empire and that Leia is his sister would only add to that internal conflict.

By the time you get to the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke turning evil wouldn’t have been all that surprising. The scenes between Luke, Vader and the Emperor on the Death Star showcase him teetering on the edge as the Emperor employs all his tricks to try and get him to turn. Like he did with Anakin, the Emperor plays on his fears and insecurities, gambling that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It very nearly works. Luke lashes out at the Emperor and to defeat Vader gives in to his anger to beat him into submission.

If ever Luke was to turn evil, it would have been then. After having spent nearly star-wars-return-of-the-jedi-mark-hamillhalf the film being manipulated by the Emperor, seeing his friends dying during the Battle of Endor and beating Vader, he still rejects it. He sees what the Dark Side did to his father and how close he is to repeating that same mistake. Unlike Anakin, he’s unwilling to give in to the temptation of the Dark Side to save those he loves. He throws his lightsaber aside and chooses dying as a Jedi than living as a Sith.

Never. I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”

Going back on that would invalidate all of Luke’s development in the Original Trilogy. Yes the Prequels did some crappy stuff trying to link itself to the Originals (Vader building C-3PO?!) but I never felt that anything it did would negatively impact my enjoyment of Episode’s IV, V and VI. If they make Luke Skywalker a villain, then this trilogy is dead before it’s even begun.

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You go onto a gaming website of your choice and look up the upcoming releases for silly season. You look at your bank balance. That feeling of crushing resignation hits and you realise you can’t afford all the pretty things. But there is a bright side! Not only do you save a few quid, but odds are a large number of upcoming releases will be buggy as hell, if not more broken than a plate at a Greek wedding. So, based on nothing more than track record, development history and my admittedly flimsy understanding of betting, what are the odds of that game you really want being broke?

  1. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5
    I remember loving this franchise as a kid and it pains me to see the lack of love and attention this latest instalment seems to be getting. Virtually zero promotion and covering up the sub-par graphics with cel-shading reek of a developer not being at all confident in their product. It’s lazy, it’s uninspired and points to a game that will be a disaster.
    Broken likelihood: 1/4
  2. Minecraft Story Mode: Episode One
    Reaction to Telltale’s games have been decidedly mixed since it reinvigorated the episodic genre with the first season of The Walking Dead. In large part this is down the their continued use of Telltale Tool, a game engine developed in 2004 and saddled with more and more expectations as technology has progressed. This has led to bugs galore, with the strength of the writing saving a lot of blushes. I can’t see that changing with Minecraft.
    Broken likelihood: 3/1
  3. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
    There isn’t a chance this won’t be broken. Considering the utter mess that was Unity and their insistence on Assassin’s Creed being an annual franchise, there’s more chance of me beating up Dwayne Johnson. I’d bet my entire life savings on this game having, at the very least, horrendous frame rate issues and texture pop-in. More likely we’ll see more game breaking bugs a’la Unity. I simply don’t have the faith in Ubisoft to prove me wrong.
    Broken likelihood: Evens
  4. Halo 5: Guardians
    If you’d asked me a year ago I’d have said there’s no way this would be broken. With 343 Industries taking over the Halo franchise and releasing a remastered Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 4 to high praise and very few, if any, bugs. Then came the Master Chief Collection and things went tits up. Yet I can’t help but feel that Halo 5 will be largely issue free. Without the pressures of an annual release cycle and learning from the mistakes made with the MCC, I think it might actually be all right.
    Broken likelihood: 10/1
  5. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
    Treyarch have a pretty good handle on Call of Duty and if the beta for BLOPS III is anything to go by that run will continue. COD may have a few problems as a franchise (though those seem to be being addressed more this generation) but stability isn’t really one of them. Even Ghosts was fairly bug free.
    Broken likelihood: 20/1
  6. Fallout 4
    Like a dodgy takeaway at 2am, bugs are guaranteed with a Bethesda game. By the very nature of it’s scope it’s inevitable that problems will occur. The real question is will they be game breaking like they were on the Playstation 3 releases of Fallout 3, New Vegas (admittedly that was Obsidian, but still) and the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I hope not, but the track record isn’t great.
    Broken likelihood: 6/1
  7. Star Wars: Battlefront
    Battlefront’s an odd duck. It’s being developed by an experienced studio and with a massive licence behind it, tying it to arguably the biggest film of the year. Yet DICE’s development of Battlefield 4 was plagued by problems and their collaboration of Hardline with Visceral was a disaster. That being said, I think the power of the franchise will see it through. I can’t see Disney allowing EA to tarnish, no matter how slightly, their crowning jewel. Bob Iger would blow his nut.
    Broken likelihood: 10/1
  8. Rise of the Tomb Raider
    Another one to add to the pile where the chances of game breaking bugs are slim, but not impossible. As with any game that tries to increase the scope there’s always a risk of bringing in unexpected variables that mess with the engine. Yet short of an Arkham Knight style fiasco I can’t see anything game breaking. Bugs yes, but that’ll be the extent of it.
    Broken likelihood: 15/1
  9. Just Cause 3
    I get the feeling that if there’s significant problems with this that it might just add to the fun. It’s a silly sandbox designed for having fun in and so long as the game doesn’t crash silly bugs might just add to that. Sure there’ll be torrents of boiled piss for people not being able to have the fun they want, but I can already see the YouTube videos of people exploiting them.
    Broken likelihood: 12/1
  10. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
    The final entry on this list I can see going one of two ways. One way is that it’ll be fine. Perhaps with a disappointing single player but with a multiplayer to write home about. The other is that it’ll be plagued with matchmaking issues and server problems in the run up to Christmas. The pre-release buzz is positive so if Ubisoft can keep the server’s ticking over in theory it should be fine. But that’s relying on Ubisoft which is never a good place to be.
    Broken likelihood: 9/1

It’ll be interesting to see how wrong my wild conjecture is come Christmas time. With any luck I’ll be completely wrong and none of these games will be broken at all. Yet with the range of games on offer and with the developers involved I think there’s more chance of Christmas being cancelled.