TV Show Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 1 (Episodes 13-22)

Hello everybody, this is the final review for the last ten episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season One. So, let us begin.

COMMANDER, I WOULD JUST LIKE TO TELL YOU THAT THERE ARE MANY SPOILERS AHEAD. ENTER AT YOUR OWN PERIL.

Jedi Crash: Anakin is gravely injured

Episode 13: Jedi Crash: Anakin and Ahsoka go to help a Jedi named Sakura who is currently in a fleet battle with Separatists. As Anakin is fighting droids on Sakura’s ship, the Separatists fire all weapons to destroy the cruiser. Anakin, using the force tries to stop the destruction but ends up being severally injured. After crashing on the planet, Maridun, Ahsoka and the clones meet the Lurmen, a neutral race that want to stay as far away from the war as possible, even so far as to not help the Jedi as it might risk their neutrality. Their elder, Tee Watt Kaa, sees no difference between the Republic and the Separatists.

This episode was okay, it was interesting seeing a race so willing to stand up for its beliefs even against two major super powers. It took a lot of courage for the Lurmen to say no. The battle at the start of the episode was pretty cool and exciting. The episode was okay but there wasn’t a lot to say about it other then it was a political episode about the aspects of neutrality against such impossible odds and at such drastic times and could neutrality survive in that type of environment. Overall an okay episode. 5/10.

Defenders of Peace: Anakin and crew defend the Lurmen

Episode 14: Defenders of Peace: Anakin wants the Lurmen to join the Republic but Tee Watt Kaa wants to keep the peace. The Separatists land and tell the Lurmen that they are in command now. Due to the Lurmen being pacifists there is no resistance. The Separatist commander wants to use the Lurmen as test subjects for his new weapon the Defoliator, a weapon that can destroy all organic life in it’s target. Anakin and his crew attempt to defend the Lurmen, even with the protest of the elder. A small group of Lurmen eventually help the Republic to push back the droids and eventually beat them.

There was one awesome aspect about this episode and that was the fact the George Takei was playing the Separatist leader, Lok Durd. It was great hearing him being involved in the Star Wars universe in some way and he has such a distinct voice. Apparently he was meant to be a recurring villain but alas, it never came to pass. I thought the Separatist Defoliator weapon was ingenious! A tank that fires shells that ONLY damage organic material? Perfect for the droid armies. On the flip side I thought the Lurmen elder was an idiot. I get it he wants to be neutral and a pacifist but his whole race was going to be destroyed. No ifs, maybes or buts, they were going to be wiped out! And what was his response when confronted?

“If it’s out destiny to be destroyed in your war so be it!”

WHAT?! Great idea just sit there and die, perfect! Who the hell elected him to be tribal leader. I understand the neutrality and the pacifism, but if your culture, race and everyone you ever knew and loved were going to be slaughtered, then I believe you should fight, but that is only my two cents on the issue. Lastly, here we go again with the plot armour! Three Separatist tanks and an entire army of droids went up against three Jedi and two clone troopers…and lost. This annoys me, it’s not that I want the heroes to die, I just want it to be believable, some element of danger or excitement. To be honest it was a very weak episode. 3/10.

Trespass: Clone snowtroopers

Episode 15: Trespass: Kenobi and Anakin are sent to Orto Plutonia to find missing clone troopers. They are with some clones, Pantorans and the Senator from Pantora, Riyo Chuchi and Chairman of Pantora Chi Cho, which due to his position of chairman has command over the mission. They find the missing clones, dead. Later they find an indigenous species on the planet, but Chi Cho wants them wiped out. Chi Cho is killed and Riyo steps up to be the leader that is needed and brokers a peace between the Pantorans and the indigenous species.

This episode was pretty good. It has a lot of action and some tense scenes. It was pretty dark seeing all the clone heads on pikes at the start of the episode, even though they were helmeted. I like when Star Wars rubs up against more adult/darker themes and realises they are doing a show about a war and war is hell. I liked seeing another issue that had nothing really to do with the Clone Wars and more about an indigenous species fighting for it’s right to remain on the planet that it is indigenous too. Brian George and Jennifer Hale were the guest stars in this episode as Chi Cho and Riyo Chuchi respectively and they done a great job, especially Chi Cho. I have to say that whoever wrote for Chi Cho was having a bad day because he was a dick. It was interesting seeing that Jedi and clones had to take orders from Chi Cho even though they completely disagreed with him. Overall a pretty good episode. 7/10.

The Hidden Enemy: Clone Interrogations

Episode 16: The Hidden Enemy: Kenobi and Anakin attempt to ambush a Separatist force in a city but they themselves get ambushed. Everyone believes that there is a traitor amongst the clone ranks. They find some information that leads them to a particular barracks commanded by a clone trooper named Slick. After interrogating Slick’s men, Slick is found to be the traitor. After trying to escape and destroying a lot of the Republic’s vehicles and gunships he eventually gets captured. Slick explains that the clones are no more than slaves to the Republic and that he wants more for himself and his brothers.

This was an excellent episode and for me one of the best in the season. I loved the battle at the start and how it showed an even battle between the Republic and Separatists. It gets boring watching the clones win every single battle with the Jedi. In saying that there is a really great lightsaber battle between Anakin, Kenobi and Ventress. The writing of the episode was top class. I loved the interrogation of the clones and even though it was an animation you could tell how much it hurt the clones to know that there was a traitor amongst their ranks. This was something that was utterly unthinkable, a free thinking clone? It was definitely a foreshadowing for events that would come later and having clones questioning the morality and ethical implications of creating “people” for one purpose and that purpose is to fight a war and die. 9/10.

Blue Shadow Virus: A terrible fate to those who are infected

Episode 17: Blue Shadow Virus: Padme finds out that there is secret Separatist laboratory on Naboo and the Separatists are using it to create a biological weapon to attack Naboo. Sharks are dying in the water which leads Padme and Jar Jar to the laboratory. They get captured by Doctor Nuvo Vindi and he tells them about the Blue Shadow Virus and how it was a virus that was wiped from the galaxy years ago. He hopes to make it airbourne. Meanwhile, Anakin sends Ahsoka to find Padme and Jar Jar. Anakin, Kenobi and Captain Rex with some clones go to the bunker to stop and apprehend Vindi. Vindi has bombs set up all over the compound and if they go off the Blue Shadow Virus will be spread across Naboo. Kenobi and a bomb squad deactivate all the bombs and they apprehend Vindi.

This was another Jar Jar episode and his ridiculous dumb luck! I still refuse to say that Jar Jar is force sensitive, not in my Star Wars he’s not. Really the character should not even exist and to add him into an episode shows absolutely lazy writing because no matter what happens to Jar Jar, he will win out because nothing can happen to poor Jar Jar. Apart from Binks, the idea was good with the blue shadow virus and the doctor was interesting. I thought the concept of a biological weapon was quite a dark theme. Overall an okay episode. 6/10.

Mystery of a thousand moons: Good guy droid army

Episode 18: Mystery of a Thousand Moons: In the Blue Shadow Virus bunker it is discovered that all the bombs weren’t actually found and there is still one left. A droid sets off the bomb and releases the Virus into the compound. Ahsoka, Jar Jar, Padme and some clones make it to a safe room as the compound is sealed to prevent it’s release into Naboo. A bit of the virus made it into the safe room and affected some clones and Ahsoka as Jar Jar and Padme were wearing protective gear. Anakin tries to get the cure from Vindi but he says there is no cure. Captain Typho of the Naboo Theed guard tells Anakin that there may be one cure, but its on a planet called Lego (I know) in Separatist controlled space. Anakin and Kenobi make it there and they see a graveyard of ships above the planet. They make it to the planet surface and see a lot of repurposed B-1 battle droids that are friendly. They find a child who reprogrammed all the droids and tells them that no one can leave Lego as a warlord named Drol wont let any ship leave. Anakin and Kenobi find the antidote and find out that it is actually a Separatist energy field that prevents anyone leaving Lego. They destory the field, leave the planet and make it back to cure everyone just in time.

I thought the idea of reprogrammed droids was extremely interesting, Realistically if the republic just captured the droids or even collected them after battle they could just reprogram them to fight for the Republic, or at least it’s a possibility. I mean surely if a child could do it the Republic could. I didn’t like the child, Jaybo. I don’t get get this trope of having a child genius who can fix anything or make anything, I don’t get why writers go down this route. I’ve seen it in various other media and to me it just doesn’t gel. Another example is Tiny Tina from the Borderlands video game series, a thirteen year old girl who is a demolitions expert…what? I know some people like this, I don’t, it’s just a personal preference. Jar Jar with all his bumbling around ends up getting Padme infected with the blue shadow virus and do they get rid of him? No. They still keep him around to see what else he can mess up in the future. Lastly it shows Anakin’s first taste of the dark side, in the show at least. When Anakin and Kenobi first land on Lego they are greeted by the droids but Anakin goes straight to slaughtering them out of anger which Kenobi had to snap him out of. Anakin losing control is showing how he is starting to slip down on his dark side path. Subtle but effective. Overall an okay episode. 6/10.

Storm over Ryloth: Disaster for the Republic

Episode 19: Storm Over Ryloth: In a disastrous fleet battle, the Republic lose a lot of ships and admiral Yularen is injured, partially caused by Ahsoka’s refusal to follow orders and return to the fleet with her fighters like she should have. Kenobi and Mace Windu give Anakin some time to get his forces together and attempt another attack, but they only give him very little time or they will postpone the invasion of Ryloth. Anakin realises this can’t happen as the people of Ryloth are suffering under the Separatists. Anakin comes up with an idea to crash one of the badly damaged Republic cruisers into the Separatist capital ship and Ahsoka would turn the last remaining cruiser sideways and use it as a shield while sending out fighters to attack the Separatist fleet. This idea works and the Republic win the space battle for Ryloth.

Okay, so fair enough Ahsoka disobeys orders and gets in trouble with Anakin. Does she take her lashing? Nope, instead she’s cheeky and argumentative and keeps using the fact that “WeLl YoU aLwAyS dIsObEy OrDeRs MaStEr” to justify herself to Anakin. Was does Anakin do? Apologise. I’m sorry her little antics got five clone pilots killed and Admiral Yularen injured and she doesn’t get reprimanded? Ridiculous. Oh and here is probably the worst plot armour in this season. So in the beginning space battle and a few space battles in other episodes, Republic cruisers get destroyed pretty easily. Remember that, it is important. So Anakin has two cruisers left, one badly damaged and the other still okay. So he begins his plan to ram the Separatist capital ship and the Separatists catch onto this. They begin firing at the badly damaged cruiser but even though two Separatist frigates and the capital ship are firing at Anakin’s BADLY DAMAGED cruiser do you think they could destroy it? No way, how could they, that cruiser has the strongest armour in the universe, plot armour. Then the capital ship blows up and all six Separatist frigates fire on Ahsoka’s one cruiser and again they can’t destroy it. If it was a normal cruiser with no main characters that cruiser would have ripped like paper and it was proven in various episodes. Rubbish plot armour. The episode was mediocre at best. 5/10.

Innocents of Ryloth: Prisoners on their own world

Episode 20: Innocents of Ryloth: The Republic realise that they can’t use a mass attack to assault the Separatists as the Separatists are use the Twi’lek (Twil-ek) as “human” shields. Kenobi realises they can only use standard blasters and droid poppers, grenades that only work on droids. The clones engage the droids and take out some. Kenobi sends some clones ahead to scout out a town. Two clones, Boil and Waxer find a Twi’lek orphan named Numa. The two clones are attacked by starved Gutkurrs which are giant creatures with big teeth. Numa leads the clones to safety in an underground tunnel. The droids send the Gutkurrs after the main clone force but the clones win. Boil, Waxer and Numa meet with the rest of the force and Numa explains that she will show the clones an underground way to the prisoners. Commander Cody creates a diversion while Kenobi goes to get the prisoners out, which he does. The Twi’leks help the clones and they defeat the droid forces.

This was an interesting episode. The fighting and action was good in it but I want to focus more on what was happening in the background of the episode and the fact that it showed how the Separatists act as an occupying force and how cruel they can be to the people in invaded. I liked seeing the relationship between the two clone troopers Waxer and Boil and how in some ways it felt like watching two American soldiers going around a village in Iraq during the Iraq war more than it felt like Star Wars. They also came up with derogatory names for the Twi’leks, Tailheads which showed the lack of sympathy or respect they had for the Twi’lek’s in their plight. It showed how the war was affecting people and how innocent lives were being destroyed and that this was one planet of many being attacked by the Separatists. It gave a more human outlook on the clones and in some ways how they were separate from droids, even though they were both made in a factory. A good episode. 7/10.

Liberty on Ryloth: The attack on Lessu

Episode 21: Liberty on Ryloth: The Republic must attack the Ryloth capital Lessu and remove the Separatists once and for all. The leader of the Separatist defence is a Skakoan called Wat Tambor. Tambor refuses to leave Ryloth saying that the Republic doesn’t have the forces to take Lessu. Tambor orders the main bulk of his force to defend the only bridge into Lessu. Windu knows he needs the help of the Twi’lek resistance force under the leadership of Cham Syndulla. Syndulla has been classed as a radical by the Republic and that he only wants power. Windu finds Syndulla and other Twi’leks attacking Separatist forces but Syndulla does not want to help Windu or the Republic. After some Twi’lek villages get bombed by the Separatists, Cham then agrees to help the Republic. Tambor is loading his ship with Twi’lek treasures but he was waiting for two more vehicles with some treasure. Windu and Syndulla see the vehicles and ambush them and use the cover of the vehicles to get across the bridge to the city. After a tense battle in the city, Windu and his clone troopers arrest Tambor and take back Lessu.

Again this episode stayed on the same course as the last showing the brutality in the clone war more than just how cool the action is. The Separatist forces called for a complete and utter bombing of civilian Twi’lek targets and they followed through destroying the homes of all the Twi’leks. I thought this was quite shocking especially in a children’s orientated show but I commend them on showing the horror that war is and it’s not all kick ass clone troopers with big guns. The droids arse around way too much, I know some of them are meant to be comic relief and I understand that, but when they clearly see a Jedi or someone that shouldn’t be there, their first thought isn’t shoot its saying stupid phrases like:

“You’re under arrest”

“You’re not authorised to be here”

I mean come on, the Jedi won’t let you arrest them and of course they’re not authorised to be there, you don’t have to tell the world that, THEY ARE THE ENEMY. Stop messing around and get shooting. Also Wat Tambor is an idiot. He had plenty of chances to leave Lessu, but he wanted to stay and take their treasures instead. Who hires these commanders? A good episode. 7/10.

Hostage Crisis: Cad Bane and his retinue

Episode 22: Hostage Crisis: A bounty hunter named Cad Bane and his entourage break into the Republic senate and take the senators hostage. Anakin wants to take Padme, his wife, on a holiday to a place where no one would know them and they could be themselves, as it is forbidden for a Jedi to marry. Padme refuses but Anakin gives her his lightsaber in an attempt to show how much he loves her. C-3P0 and R2 come into the room so Anakin has to hide. Cad Bane is demanding that Chancellor Palpatine releases Ziro the Hutt from Republic custody. After some time and a few attempts at helping the hostages by Anakin, which failed, Palpatine plays ball and allows Ziro to be taken by Cad Bane. Bane releases Ziro and they both escape.

A fantastic episode. Cad Bane is a wonderful addition to the show and you can believe that he is a bounty hunter. There is no messing around with him, hell he even executes a senator because the senator tries to walk away from him. Everything is precise with Bane and he is absolutely on the ball in terms of knowing what to do. I love how ruthless he is and he committed he is to getting the job done. A very well written and believable episode and one of the best in the series. 9/10.

Overall opinion on the season:

A good start with some bumps and most of them being Jar Jar Binks. It has a lot of good action, good storytelling and the lightsaber battles are just cool. It is interesting getting to know the clone troopers a lot more and seeing some actual battles that gave some of the clones their stripes. The exploration of the galaxy and the lore around some of the other races and factions are a nice treat to Star Wars fans that like the universe to be expanded. There are a lot less silly moments then I would have thought looking at the show and the show seems to take itself quite serious which is good. If you are a Star Wars fan and you are on the ropes about watching this show I would say give the first season a try. It will give you a taste of what the rest of the show will be like. Overall, I enjoyed it.

The Doomslayer rating system:

10 – Masterpiece

9 – Close to Perfection

8 – Excellent

7 – Very Good Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season One (2008)

6 – Good, worth a watch!

5 – Okay, but I’m glad it’s over!

4 – Bearable

3 – Baaaaaaad!

2 – Who spent time making this?

1 – Travesty, they should never go near a film set again!

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!

Film Review: Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! (2017)

Title: Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! (2017)

Genre: Animated Adventure

Directed by: Kunihiko Yuyama (Pokemon: The First Movie, Pokemon: The Movie 2000)

Age Rating: PG (Parental Guidance)

Run Time: 112 mins (1hr 52mins)

Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You!

Hello everybody, this is my review of the 2017 movie, Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! This movie is the 20th movie in the Pokemon film series and was directed by Kunihiko Yuyama whose work mostly involves Pokemon, even directing the first Pokemon movie in 1998. The story takes us right back to when Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town first meets the electric mouse Pokemon, Pikachu.

I CHOOSE YOU TO REALISE THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD. IF YOU WANT TO BE A TRUE POKEMON MASTER, DO NOT CONTINUE…unless you want spoilers.

The plot at the start of the film is basically the exact same as how Ash obtained Pikachu. He woke up late on the his tenth birthday to choose his very first Pokemon from Professor Oak. Because Ash got there late, he only had one choice left and that was Pikachu. Pikachu was very disobedient and he had no time for Ash. Ash found a Pidgey and was trying to catch it, but Pikachu would not help him. So Ash threw a rock and missed Pidgey but hit another Pokemon, Spearow. A flock of Spearow arrived and started to attack Ash and Pikachu and left Pikachu quite injured. After falling, Ash told Pikachu not to worry that he would protect Pikachu. Pikachu watched as Ash challenged the Spearow and told them to leave Pikachu alone and attack him instead. Pikachu built up enough strength to leap into the air and use a tremendous thunderbolt to drive all the Spearow away. As the sky clears, a legendary Pokemon named Ho-oh flies past and a feather drops down to Ash.

We later see Ash on his Pokemon adventure, challenging people to Pokemon battles and winning. He overhears that there is a legendary Pokemon called Entei in the area, along with all the other trainers. The trainers go and find Entei in the forest but they all lose trying to catch it. Ash meets a trainer called Verity and they don’t get on at all. Ash also meets another trainer called Sorrel. As it starts to rain they go to find shelter but on the way they run into a Charmander, a fire Pokemon with a flame on its tail, if the flame goes out, Charmander dies. Charmander was abandoned in the wilderness by his trainer, Cross because Cross thinks that Charmander is too weak. Ash nurses Charmander back to health while Sorrel tells Ash about the legend of the rainbow hero and that Ho-oh drops a feather to a person that it thinks will be the rainbow hero who is destined to fight the Ho-oh.

Cross returns to fight Ash and his newly evolved Charmeleon, but Cross makes quick work of them both. Ash distraught goes into a forest alone and another Pokemon named Misdreavous puts Ash asleep and gives him a nightmare where there are no Pokemon. The rainbow feather loses all colour, but in the dream Ash realises this is all wrong and wakes up to see that the feather has regained it’s colour. The team continue on their journey up Mt. Tensei to battle the Ho-oh. As they are about to make it to their destination, Cross returns and challenges Ash to another Pokemon battle, which Ash accepts. Charmeleon evolves into Charizard and beats Cross’s Pokemon. Cross in his annoyance steals the rainbow feather and puts it into a beam of light, meant to summon Ho-oh. When Cross places the feather, the beam turns dark and all the Pokemon in the area turn bad and attack the group. Ash managed to save Pikachu by getting him into a Pokeball but Ash starts to disappear. Pikachu brings himself out of the Pokeball to see Ash start to fade away and in his sadness lets out a mighty thunderbolt which stops all the Pokemon from fighting.

Ash wakes up to see that all the colour is drained and he is left in a grey world. But Ash doesn’t give up and as he starts to walk towards Pikachu he is transported to different areas of nature and colour. Ash starts to run through these areas which creates a sort of portal in front of Pikachu, until Pikachu realises that it’s Ash and they hug each other and Ash turns to colour again…If you’re confused, I don’t blame you, but it happens. Ash takes the rainbow feather and places it on the beam, calling Ho-oh down to fight, which they do, but you don’t get to see. Cross realises his mistakes and makes up with Ash and everyone goes on their own journey and separate. That is the end.

So onto the movie and what I thought of it.

Story wise I thought it was interesting that they went back to when Ash first got Pikachu. I felt that it was a retelling for people who might not have been old enough to experience that when the Pokemon TV show first aired and I thought it was a nice throwback. My personal issue is that, I was around when the TV show first aired, so the first third of the film is absolutely wasted on me because they done nothing new or different with it, it was almost the exact same. They could have just shown the first episode of Pokemon for the first half an hour and it would have had the same effect. That said, it does explain why Ash sees the mythical bird from the TV show and explains why Ho-oh appears to Ash all those years ago. There are also many storylines that again are not only taken from the first season of the show, but play out almost exactly as they happen in the show. Ash finding Charmander and Cross leaving him? In the show that was a character called Damien that left Charmander and for the same reason. Butterfree leaving Ash to go mate with another pink Butterfree, yep.

They do go into some Pokemon and explain how their origins, such as Entei. I thought his story was cool but sad. Apparently a building with Pokemon in it burned down and killed the Pokemon, but Ho-oh took pity on them and brought them back to life as three legendary Pokemon, Entei, Raikou and Suicune. I enjoyed learning their lore as I am a lore freak! Another sad story was about Sorrel and the reason he kept away from Pokemon. As a child he got lost from his home and his family Pokemon, Luxray stayed with him. A blizzard occurred and Luxray covered Sorrel to keep him warm. Sorrel was found but Luxray froze to death. It was a sad story and not one you encounter much in the world of Pokemon, death.

A big problem I have with the story are Team Rocket. If anyone knows their Pokemon they know exactly who the dastardly trio are, but to anyone new, Team Rocket are members of an evil organisation trying to take over the world using Pokemon. In the show they always come up with shenanigans to help accomplish their schemes but they get defeated in the end and usually get blasted into the air with their classic catchphrase “Team Rocket are blasting off again!”. In this movie they show up about three or four times and don’t actually do anything and just keep blasting off into the air repeating the catchphrase. They are utterly pointless in this movie and should not have been added.

Lastly, on the story, my biggest problem: Why the hell did they skip over the fight between Ho-oh and Pikachu, you know THE WHOLE POINT OF THE MOVIE! I sat through an almost two hour movie, much of which I have seen before years ago and the big build up, the penultimate moment, the payoff…is nothing. No epic Pokemon battle between Pikachu and a legendary Pokemon, nothing. Even worse, it’s not even mentioned, we don’t know if Ash lost or if he caught Ho-oh or won and let it go, nothing. I felt like it was a complete waste of time in some ways. Why build up this epic rainbow hero story, the destined Pokemon trainer to fight Ho-oh and then not only not show it, but don’t even mention it again.

The artwork of the movie was beautiful and some of the scenes, especially when Pikachu let off the tremendous thunderbolts were absolutely astounding. The movie uses a mix of 2-D and 3-D graphics throughout and the transition between both is seamless. The Pokemon battles were brought to life, especially the battles between Incineroar vs. Charmeleon and Incineroar vs. Charizard. If you are anyway into Pokemon you will love those battles. The soundtrack was very good and enjoyable and worked with the movie.

Overall I enjoyed the movie, but boy did it have it’s flaws. The story was the biggest problem with it as the Pokemon battles, artwork, graphics, soundtrack and voice acting were all pretty good. The biggest question for me would be would I watch this again and I think the answer is a big no. If I wanted to watch Ash’s and Pikachu’s story I would just watch the show again, but it does explain a bit more. It’s an okay movie, enjoyable enough and I’m glad I watched it, but I won’t watch it again.

The Doomslayer rating system:

10 – Masterpiece

9 – Close to Perfection

8 – Excellent

7 – Very Good

6 – Good, worth a watch! – Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! (2017)

5 – Okay, but I’m glad it’s over!

4 – Bearable

3 – Baaaaaaad!

2 – Who spent time making this?

1 – Travesty, they should never go near a film set again!

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!

Album Review: “Agent Orange” (1989) by Sodom

Band/Artist: Sodom (Vocals/Bass: Tom Angelripper, Guitar: Frank Blackfire, Drums: Chris Witchhunter)

Album: Agent Orange (1989)

Genre: Thrash Metal

Label: Steamhammer, SPV

This is my review of the 1989 album ‘Agent Orange’ by German thrash metal band, Sodom. Agent Orange was the third studio album by the band and it was a commercial breakthrough for the band, selling over 100,000 copies in Germany alone. The album has a Vietnam war theme to it with some songs directly referencing things from the Vietnam war due to the lead singers fascination with the Vietnam war, such as Agent Orange. So let’s get into the songs.

1. Agent Orange – Agent Orange starts off heavy, with a headbangingly good riff and kick ass drums. The song then slows and builds up to this awesome thrash song that would get any thrash lover going. The songs named is taken from the chemical weapon used during the Vietnam war to destroy much of Vietnam. I feel with the meaning behind the song and the intensity of how hard it hits, it is definitely one of the most memorable thrash songs in history. An excellent song with a fantastic riff, heavy drumming, raw singing and a great solo.

2. Tired and Red – This track immediately starts heavy as all hell and had me headbanging. The lyrics are all about warfare and how horrifying it all really is. The riff is absolutely fantastic but then about halfway through it slows down into this beautiful melodic piece of music that reminds me of the soundtrack from the video game Diablo II (2000) and then we’re not finished yet, oh no my friends. The song builds into this heavy metal solo that absolutely does nothing but rock before travelling you back to the heavy thrash again! An amazing song and one of my favourite on the album.

3. Incest – Okay lets deal with the elephant in the room, the song is about wanting to have sex with your sister and how she is enticing you to have sex with her. A very strange subject and I have no idea what the hell they are talking about. Apart from that the song is very heavy and another hard hitting thrash song which gets me to move my head up and down. In saying that there is nothing that really stands out for me in this song. It’s good but not great, I mean it’s heavy and the riff is pretty good and the drums are banging as ever, it’s just sort of a generic thrash song.

4. Remember the Fallen – A slower and more heavy metal orientated song which there is nothing wrong with. The song is about the fallen soldiers of war and how patronising it is to honour these men and women who are just treated as cannon fodder and how they die in senseless wars and how much of a waste it is. The song is raw and heavy and one of the more technical songs on the album. A very enjoyable song and a nice break from the constant headbanging from the last three songs cause you’ll do yourself a neck injury with all that headbanging. I feel it shows their talent a lot more when they vary the metal that is being used.

5. Magic Dragon – The song starts with some superb guitar work which I thoroughly enjoyed. The song itself is about Duc Lap Camp, a US military camp in Vietnam that was attacked by the Vietcong and resulted in the death of 366 people, on both sides of the conflict. It speaks about the chaos that is going on as the attack is happening. The Magic Dragon itself is actually an aircraft called the Douglas AC-47 Spooky which was an aircraft that provided ground support to the US military. The song itself is pretty good, but not amazing or that memorable to me. I mean it works and it rocks hard but to me it’s only pretty good. Would I listen to it again? Sure of course, but it wouldn’t be in my top ten songs list let’s just say that.

6. Exhibition Bout – This song is interesting in the subject that it talks about, Bull fighting and how horrific the “sport” is. It also talks about how people actually pay money to watch something so cruel happening to these animals. The song is pretty good, a decent thrash song but nothing that really stands out to me, well apart from the kick ass solo, that is pretty awesome. Another good song but not a great one.

7. Ausgebombt – The drums! My lordy lordy lord, the drums are great! From the first moment I was headbanging to the drums. The theme of the song is an anti war song and telling people to stop trading in war and weapons and death which to this guy being me is a pretty good statement. Another good song with a decent guitar riff and singing but the king of this song is by far the drums for me.

8. Baptism of Fire – This song hits you like a ton of bricks from the get go and it continues to do it throughout the entire song. One of the heaviest songs on the album and one that I absolutely had a great time listening to. The song slows down to another guitar shredding solo and one that makes me want to turn up the volume. A pretty bad ass song that will be in my play list for a long time.

9. Don’t Walk Away – This song is a cover of British heavy metal band’s Tank song of the same name. I think Sodom done a great job with it. They stayed true to the original but they also made it their own and made it just that bit heavier. The band is absolutely on point and in turn are playing some top class heavy metal. An excellent cover to a pretty good song.

Final thoughts:

I first heard of Sodom from some crappy thrash compilation album I bought in HMV (RIP) about fifteen years ago. It was a five cd thrash compilation album from various artists, some good, most were bad, but one of the good ones was Sodom. After hearing the song Agent Orange from that collection I had to find the album and I did and I listened to it again and again and I loved it. Agent Orange is to me a supreme thrash album that is up there with the likes of Reign in Blood (1986) from Slayer or Among the Living (1987) by Anthrax. It is a fantastic album with a lot of headbanging tracks but just enough to not get same ol’ same ol’. The band knows when to mix it up and keep you interested and I didn’t find one song boring or annoying. I would say if you’re a fan of thrash or heavy metal then give this album a listen, but I would say it would suit thrash fans more.

My favourite song on the album: Tired and Red

8/10

TV Show Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 1 (Episodes 7-12)

Hello everybody, this is the continuation of my review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 1. Today we will be doing episodes 7-12, so let’s begin.

THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED, MATEYS! YARRRRRRRGH!

Duel of the Droids – R2-D2 vs R3-S6

Episode 7: Duel of the Droids: R2 is still missing and it is up to Anakin, Ahsoka and the clones to get him back. They find R2’s signal on a Separatist Battle Sphere above a moon and travel there to take him back. Meanwhile, it is revealed that R3-S6 was a Separatist spy all along and that the droid was intentionally trying to get Anakin and the rest of the crew hurt all those times it had “accidents”. Anakin tells the clones to destroy the Battle Sphere with previously planted explosives, even though they are still inside. Grievous escapes and R2 and R3 have a “battle” of sorts on a platform high in the atmosphere. Eventually R2 beats R3, letting the droid fall to it’s death.

The episode itself is pretty good. I thought that Grievous killing Gha Nachkt out right when he asked for more credits really sealed it on how ruthless Grievous can be. I feel he has absolutely no time for people trying to double cross him or blackmail him and that he would crush any enemy that would attempt to do so. I like the angle of R3-S6 being a double agent. It is interesting because you never see it and even though it would be the last thing that you would expect to betray you, it makes a lot of sense as the astromech droids in Star Wars are quite handy and they can do a hell of a lot of things. The fact that a droid alone could compromise so much for the Republic forces shows how much they really need to pay attention on who their friends and enemies really are. I thought the droid duel was a nice tough as you don’t really get to see the friendly droids do a whole lot of fighting in the Star Wars universe and it showed that R2 could hold his own. A good episode. 7.5/10

Bombad Jedi – Padme betrayed

Episode 8: Bombad Jedi: Senator Padme Amadala must meet Onaconda Farr on the planet Rodia to get the Rodians to honour their commitment to the Republic. There she finds that the people of Rodia are starving and that the Republic have paid little attention to them and their plights. Because of the Onaconda pledges the allegiance of Rodia to the Separatists and allows Padme to be arrested by droids. Jar Jar Binks and C-3P0 came with Padme but Padme told them to stay with the ship. Droids come to arrest Binks and C-3P0 but because of Binks bumbling around he destroys the droids and the senator’s ship. Binks puts on a cloak and he suddenly looks like a Jedi, well to the Separatist forces anyway. Through more Jar Jar bumbling, he destroys a lot of droids and C-3P0 manages to get a message to Republic forces. Nute Gunray comes to collect Padme but he is thwarted by Jar Jar. Onaconda realises he made a big mistake siding with the Separatists and Padme allows him to say that this was all an elaborate trap to catch Gunray and allows Onaconda and the Rodians to rejoin the Republic. Chancellor Palpatine sends a message saying that supplies will be on the way to the Rodians.

This episode was meh at best. It was good seeing that because of the war, planets are being forgotten about and that it is not only the frontlines that need supplies. I thought it was interesting seeing the affect the war had on smaller planets that wouldn’t have a lot to give to the war effort and how they are really just pawns in a game. Jar Jar as a Jedi? No. Nope. Doesn’t work for me. I am not just jumping on the Jar Jar hate wagon here for no reason, I genuinely think that Jar Jar Binks is one of the worst characters ever created in the Star Wars universe and anytime they try to legitimise him throughout Star Wars media it is a big mistake and a hark back to a time not so long ago when Star Wars media was bad. Jar Jar is a terrible character and I’m saying that from every stand point I can in terms of from when I was a child I didn’t like him and I definitely do not like him now. Personally I think Star Wars should cut their loses and get rid of the character, but that is just me. Not a good episode. 4/10

Cloak of Darkness – Ventress vs Luminara

Episode 9: Cloak of Darkness: Nute Gunray is to be transported back to Coruscant to face trials for his war crimes. Ahsoka, Jedi Master Luminara Unduli and a handful of Senate Commandos including Captain Faro Argyus. Darth Sidious tells Dooku that Gunray needs to be silenced. Dooku sends Ventress to kill or rescue Gunray. Ventress and a droid force attack the ship and while Ventress is planting explosives in the generator room she is attacked by Unduli. Unduli eventually loses and is trapped under some ship debris before being rescued by Ahsoka. Captain Argyus betrays the Republic and sets Nute Gunray free. They all escape, but as Argyus is gloating about the escape he himself is betrayed by Ventress and stabbed in the back.

Aesthetically I thought the Senate Commandos were awesome. I loved the blue armour and the more formal looking uniforms. Aseej Ventress’s lightsaber skills are fabulous to watch, even if the Jedi do call her sloppy and amateur. The problem with Ventress is she is too emotional when she fights and she lets her anger guide her a little too much, but apart from that she is a deadly fighter and a vicious assassin. Which leads me on to her lightsaber duel with Master Unduli. I believe it is one of the first major lightsaber duels in the show and it is a really vivid one to start off with. The animators really knew how to make the duels engaging and exciting and they knew it was a show, a show that deserves to be enjoyed and I very much enjoyed this one. Lastly from a story point of view, I thought it was very interesting that a senate commando betrayed the Republic. The senate commandos are not made up of clones as far as I’m aware so they wouldn’t have the same conditioning or natural loyalty to the Republic. In saying that, the be a senate commando, I’m sure you had to be the best of the best and demonstrated your loyalty to the Republic on a number of occasions which made the fall of the Captain so much more worrying. If someone who is meant to give their life to protect the senate could fall to the Separatists, how far does this conspiracy go. Overall, an enjoyable episode. 8/10

Lair of Grievous – Grievous vs Fisto and Vebb

Episode 10: Lair of Grievous: Jedi Master Kit Fisto and his Padawan Nahdar Vebb follow the tracking beacon on Nute Gunray’s ship to attempt to recapture him. They find the ship but no one is inside. They enter a castle that is on the planet. Master Fisto is contacted by Dooku telling him that he won’t give up Gunray but he will allow the Jedi to capture Grievous. Fisto realises he is in the Lair of Grievous. Dooku sets up a trap telling Grievous to go to the planet. Fisto sets up an ambush to hopefully capture the General. Fisto gets the jump on Grievous and Grievous’s legs get cut off. Grievous escapes but kills some clones on the way. The clones attempt to contact the Republic fleet to send reinforcements but the droids destroy the clone transport. Fisto tells his astromech to pilot his ship out of danger and contact the fleet. Fisto finds Grievous’s control room, but Vebb in his anger tries to attack Grievous. Grievous’s droid cuts off Fisto from Vebb and Vebb ends up killed by Grievous. Fisto escapes on his starship back to Coruscant. Grievous tells Dooku that he killed a Jedi, but Dooku isn’t impressed saying that Grievous only killed a Padawan, angering Grievous.

A very good episode. The opening was very eerie and strange. There was an Aliens (1986) feeling to it as the squad of clones were making their way through these tight, dark corridors looking for the enemy. I loved the fact that their was a little more backstory on General Grievous as there is not much known about the Separatist General. It was great just to see where and how he lived even, I love backstory and lore so the more, the better. Another very cool lightsaber battle like the last episode. Seeing Grievous in a lightsaber battle is a treat for me personally and I very much enjoyed this one. I loved the ominous and dreadful atmosphere that was persistent throughout this episode. It gave me a feeling that I can only describe in two words…Oh, no! A great episode and a little different from the norm in terms of atmosphere. 8.5/10

Dooku Captured – Hondo with the Jedi

Episode 11: Dooku Captured: While thinking he caught Anakin Skywalker, Count Dooku was duped as it was a trap by Kenobi and Anakin instead. While trying to escape he leaves his capital ship on his own personal ship. Anakin and Kenobi pursue him and fire on Dooku’s ship, damaging it. Dooku lands his ship but Kenobi and Anakin get shot down by a droid fighter. They continue to pursue Dooku into a cave, but they were tricked and Dooku collapses the cave roof on their heads. Dooku escapes but is captured by the pirate captain Hondo Ohnaka and his pirate gang and he will be ransomed off to either the Separatists or the Republic. Hondo contacts the Republic and tells them that he has Dooku and is willing to ransom him. So Anakin and Kenobi go and verify if the pirates do indeed have Dooku. The Jedi confirm that Dooku is in the pirates custody, so the Republic send Senator Kharrus and….Jar Jar Binks….with the credits to go and get Dooku. While waiting, Anakin and Kenobi have a drink with the pirates, who attempt to give the Jedi spiked drinks. The Jedi switch their drinks with two pirates and the pirates pass out.

Overall an okay episode. Hondo is a very good pirate captain and a character that even though he is a villain, you can’t help but be charmed by him. It was good to see a Kenobi and Anakin only episode as a lot of that is lost during the Clone Wars and it is mostly Anakin and Ahsoka, so I definitely enjoyed seeing the master and apprentice together again. A good episode but not a lot to say on it, more of a filler episode I would say. 7/10

The Gungan General – Binks and the clone troopers

Episode 12: The Gungan General: Anakin and Kenobi did turn out to be drugged after all even though they were careful. They wake up in a cell in the pirates care and to make matters worse, they are with Dooku and to make matters EVER worse they are all tied together. Binks and Kharrus are on the way but one of Hondo’s pirate crew attempts to betray Hondo and take the ransom himself by shooting down Binks’s ship. Kharrus is dead leaving Jar Jar in charge of the clones. The Jedi and Dooku attempt to escape together but they end up re-captured. Turk, Hondo’s betrayer goes to get the ransom from the crash site but his men are killed by the clones. Turk returns to Hondo telling him that the Republic have sent an army, which they didn’t which convinces Hondo to send his tanks after the clones. The tanks arrive but they get destroyed when Jar Jar takes one over and rams it into another tank and shuts down the power for the pirates. With this, Dooku and the Jedi escape. Dooku kills Turk and takes his ship and the Jedi capture Hondo though Kenobi tells Anakin to set him free as they have no problem with pirates. Hondo tells Kenobi that he is honorable but Kenobi warns that Dooku won’t be so forgiving.

It was an odd moment to see the Jedi and Dooku becoming allies of convenience for short while to get themselves out of a sticky situation. Not something you see that much in the Star Wars universe, but I think it’s quite cool when it happens. At least they’re smart enough to put their differences aside when it benefits them both, no matter how different their ideologies are. Jar Jar…Oh Jar Jar. In this episode his antics stop being “funny”. The reason senator Kharrus was killed was because Jar Jar was messing around on the ship as they were being attacked by the pirates and Kharrus has to get up and strap Jar Jar in like a child. Because of this, Kharrus’s safety harness was not attached properly and he ended up dying when their ship got hit by the pirates. Jar Jar is dangerous and I don’t like the fact that no one else sees it…well no one bar the clones. They know exactly what Jar Jar is like. Hondo lived up to being a decent enough villain and I liked the fact that they left it open on whether we would see Hondo again with Kenobi telling Hondo that Dooku won’t forgive what happened. A fairly action packed episode and pretty fun throughout. 6.5/10

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!

Album Review: “Bleach” (1989) by Nirvana

Band/Artist: Nirvana (Vocals/Guitar: Kurt Cobain, Bass Guitar: Krist Novoselic, Drums: Chad Channing)

Album: Bleach (1989)

Genre: Grunge, Punk Rock, Hard Rock, Indie Rock

Label: Subpop

Hello everybody, this my review of the album Bleach by grunge rockers, Nirvana. Bleach was the first studio album by the Seattle band and boy does it rock hard. The album is made up of eleven tracks and I will be speaking about each of them individually and then the album as a whole. Bleach did not chart on it’s initial release but the critics were impressed by it. Before Nevermind was released in 1991, Bleach sold 40,000 copies in North America alone. After Nevermind came out though and Nirvana became the one of the most popular bands of the nineties, Bleach became certified Platinum by the RIAA and has went on to sell 1.9 Million copies and that’s only the United States. Now this review may be a little bias as Nirvana are my favourite band of all time and Kurt Cobain was an inspiration to me growing up. Funnily enough, Bleach was the last Nirvana album I purchased after Nevermind and In Utero. So here is my run down on each of the songs:

  1. Blew – Blew comes in with a very strong start for the album. That initial bass line really gets you into the song and then the rest of the band kicks in with the hard drumming and dirty, grimy guitar playing. Kurt Cobain’s singing is on point in this song, but for me the bass line has to be the winner. Overall a fantastic song!
  2. Floyd the Barber – Another grimy and very raw song that is more about feeling then technical work. The drums are very vibrant and raw and make you head bang and along with that guitar it is a match made in heaven and then it suddenly gets to the chorus and you can hear the talent from all three members of the band, But Cobain’s singing really steals the show at the chorus.
  3. About a Girl – One of the more technical songs on the album, it is not a hard song to play, but boy it is fun. The band seems to really come together and they make something really special. Chad Channing’s soft drumming throughout the verses for it to come alive during the solo really adds to it. The bass line by Krist Novoselic is superb in the background and Cobain’s guitar playing and vocals are absolutely top notch. Definitely one of my favourite Nirvana songs.
  4. School – One of the more raw and grungier songs on the album. This song gives me the feeling that you are only meant to rock out to it instead of really listening to it. The hard pounding of the drums to the roar of the guitar during the chorus really gets you in the groove. Cobain’s voice in really good and it really gives you the angst vibe you usually get with Grunge.
  5. Love Buzz – This is a cover of a Dutch band called Shocking Blue and Nirvana really made it their own. The bass is absolutely fantastic, not overly crazy but it definitely adds to the charm of the song. This was the song that was released on Nirvana’s first EP and it released as their debut song. Truly I feel like everything is secondary to the bass line in this song, not that everything else is bad, god no! But the bass line is so good that it just makes me bop my head back and forth. Excellent song.
  6. Paper Cuts – One of the best songs on the album. The tone of the song is so raw and dirty and grimy and one of the hardest hitting songs on the album! Cobain’s voice blew me away on this. There is something about the shout at the end of every line of the verse. I feel like the band were pulling out all the stops for this song and it really shows. A true grunge song.
  7. Negative Creep – This song will definitely get the crowd going. The pace is faster than other songs on the album but none of the instruments hit any less and Cobain sings a lot fiercer. There seems to be a lot of feeling and emotion to this song and you can feel it from each band member doing their job and doing it well. Amazing song!
  8. Scoff – Another technically impressive song. There is a lot to this song, from the boppy verses to the droning chorus, its a song that has a lot of parts and each of them work well as a whole. My personal choice for the bits that stand out have to be the drums though. The drumming throughout is absolutely fantastic and definitely makes the song.
  9. Swap Meet – From the awesome guitar to the excellent singing from Cobain, Swap Meet is a very fun song from start to finish. The chorus is where is stands out though. It really ties the song together from a sort of monotony to a chorus that really bites. A very fun song and one of my favourite on the album.
  10. Mr. Moustache – Personally I am not a big fan of this song. It is okay, I feel if they slowed it down a tad it could have worked better. Nirvana were still finding their feet in terms of the punk scene so some of the songs lean more towards that. The thing is I like punk but I just feel that this song is a bit messy. Not a bad song, but not great.
  11. Sifting – A fantastic song! Really atmospheric and ticks all the right boxes for me. Another very raw song with a lot of angst attached to it. Cobain’s voice is absolutely on point in this song. The band compliment each other and you can really hear the contribution from each member of the band. For me the chorus is the best part, it is an absolutely awesome track and a strong ending to a tremendous album.

Final thoughts:

A remarkable debut album that really added to the grunge scene in Seattle and abroad. While the album didn’t make Nirvana a household name yet and launch them into the stratosphere of stardom that would come down the road, this album really laid the foundations of what would become their magnum opus, being Nevermind a few years later. For those who want a raw, emotion filled, dirty grunge album, but at the same time has some technically impressive work filled with a lot of talent, then Bleach is definitely one to add to your collection. Almost every song has it’s own story to tell and it’s own way of telling it and no two songs sound similar. A real work of art and an album that is a joy to listen to straight out of the gate.

My favourite song on the album: Negative Creep

9/10

TV Series Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 1 (Episodes 1-6)

Hello everybody! This is a new segment in which I review tv shows. Some of the shows have a lot of episodes per season, so I will be splitting them into a few parts. Today I will be starting with the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The Clone Wars animated series is set after Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and before Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and it mainly deals with the clone wars in which the clone armies backed by the Republic must fight the droid armies of the Separatist Alliance. The animated series came out in 2008, two months after the tie in movie and has had a fantastic run which produced seven seasons. The show deals more with the actual war and the clone troopers involved instead of just being about the Jedi and the Sith and you learn more about the actual soldiers that fight these battles and more background on characters you would see in the movies.

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Ambush: Yoda and his remaining clones

Episode 1 Ambush: The Clone Wars starts off strong with both the Republic and Separatists trying to gain the favour of a neutral planet, Toydaria. Jedi Master Yoda is to meet with the king of Toydaria on Ragosa to form a treaty and have them become members of the Republic. But Sith assassin and apprentice of Count Dooku, Aseej Ventress gets there first and tells the king that he will be better protected by joining the Separatists. Ventress gives the Yoda a challenge. If he can reach the meeting place by nightfall, she will allow the king to join the Republic, which Yoda accepts. Ventress sends a droid army to stop Yoda and his small band of clone troopers, but they fail to stop them. Ventress attempts to kill the king instead but Yoda stops her just in time. Ventress escapes and Toydaria becomes part of the Republic.

It was a gripping story to start with and it had a lot of action. It also showed that Master Yoda knew his men, because when they were losing heart and losing hope he told them all of their individual strengths and how they could overcome adversity, which they did eventually. It was a nice moment as it showed that some Jedi do care about their men. It also showed how strong in the force Yoda was compared to Ventress as he stopped her from attacking only using the force and he kept her in place until he chose to let her go. Overall a good episode and a great starting point. 8/10

Rising Malevolence: Plo Koon trapped with his remaining clones

Episode 2 Rising Malevolence: Jedi Master Plo Koon is leading a small fleet of Republic cruisers looking for a Separatist secret weapon that is capable of wiping out whole fleets of Republic ships. Koon finds the new weapon which is a ship called the Malevolence. The Malevolence fires an Ion Cannon which knocks out all power on a ship and catches Koon’s fleet with it. With all systems down and no means to escape, the Malevolence, captained by General Grievous destroys the fleet. Koon and a squad of clone troopers make it to an escape pod but the systems are fried on the escape pod, meaning they have very little time before their air runs out. Grievous sends out pod hunters, designed to go to escape pods and kill any survivors. Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano believe that Koon is still alive and go searching for him in the debris, much to the annoyance of Anakin’s master, Obi Won Kenobi, as he was ordered to stay on board his cruiser. Anakin and Ahsoka eventually find Koon and his men and they barely escape with their lives. Grievous contacts his master, Count Dooku, explaining that he failed to destroy Skywalker and now the Republic will learn of the secret weapon.

I thought this was a very cool episode. The Malevolence is an almighty ship with awesome power and the fact that it can knock out whole fleets with one shot of its weapon makes it terrifying to deal with. I thought the pod hunters was a nice touch also, showing that Grievous was thinking about all variables and not being cocky enough to assume that everyone was killed. The pod hunters were vicious in the way that it destroyed a pod by smashing the window of the escape pod and letting the vacuum of space do its thing. Master Plo Koon is a competent leader who looks out for his men and commands their respect. Overall a very enjoyable episode. 8/10

Shadow of Malevolence: The Assault on the Malevolence

Episode 3: Shadow of Malevolence: The Malevolence continues to obliterate Republic fleets. Anakin wants to find a way to destroy it and he thinks he has with the new Y-Wing Republic bombers and hatches a plan to use them to destroy the bridge of the Malevolence, killing General Grievous with it. Grievous is planning to go after a Republic medical space station and kill the 60,000 wounded clone troopers that are on it. Anakin needs to catch Grievous so he forms Shadow Squadron and decides to take a shortcut which leads them into a Nebula that is full of Neebrays, giant space manta rays. Shadow Squadron come out mostly unscathed bar one fighter, Matchstick’s, whose ship was damaged. The Malevolence comes out of Hyperspace and fires it’s Ion Cannon at the fighters, taking out half of the Y-Wings. As it is preparing to fire again, Anakin and the remaining fighters attack the weapon itself and forces it to backfire, destroying a lot of systems on the Malevolence, including the hyper drive. Kenobi shows up with his fleet and starts attacking the Malevolence as it is trying to move back to Separatist held space.

The space battles were really exciting in this episode, especially the fighter attack against the Malevolence. Some of the graphics were beautiful, especially when the fighters were flying through the Nebula shortcut and seeing the Neebrays and the different colours that were in the Nebula. The theme of the episode was slightly darker as the whole plot was about Grievous going to attack and kill 60,000 wounded and defenceless soldiers in a hospital, which showed how ruthless he was. Also getting to know some of the clones, especially Matchstick and watching him get killed was also quite dark. I say this in terms of a show that is more marketed for children and/or a younger audience. Another enjoyable episode. 8.5/10

Destroy Malevolence: Kenobi and Grievous face off

Episode 4: Destroy Malevolence: The damaged Malevolence is being pursued by three Republic cruisers. Grievous needs time to repair his ship so Darth Sidious arranges for Padme Amadala and C-3P0 to fly towards Grievous’s ship, thinking they have a meeting with the banking clan. They get caught in Grievous’s trap and their ship gets tractor beamed and pulled onto the Malevolence. Padme, rigs her ship to explode hoping to kill Grievous before she escapes onto the Malevolence, but Grievous survives. Anakin, Kenobi and R2-D2 lead a mission to rescue Padme and C-3P0. Anakin manages to rescue Padme and just before they share a kiss, Kenobi tells Anakin that C-3P0 still needs rescuing. Padme tells Anakin that the hyper drive is almost finished and then Grievous will be able to escape. Kenobi goes to deal with the hyper drive but Grievous learns of his plan and sends droids to stop him. Meanwhile, Padme and Anakin make their way to the bridge, destroy the droids and use the navicomputer to set coordinates of the Malevolence to fly into a close moon. The good guys escape, pursued by Grievous in a fighter. Grievous tells the droids to send the Malevolence into hyper space, but when they activate it they fly directly into the moon, destroying the Malevolence. Count Dooku, contacts Grievous telling him that he is waiting for him and the Malevolence at the rendezvous point, but Grievous cuts contact and escapes.

Another interesting space battle episode. It was fascinating seeing the raw strength of the Malevolence in terms of the fact that even though it was completely battle damaged and on the run from three Republic cruisers, the cruisers could not penetrate the armour of the Malevolence. That is refreshing to see in a universe where most of the ships seem like they’re made out of cardboard and collapse at the slightest breeze. The humour in this episode was silly for one particular part which sort of annoyed me. During a sequence when the Malevolence was on fire, a droid fire crew was sent to put out the fire. Not only did they have firemen hats on, which I thought was ridiculous, but one fell over bringing the hose because the hose was too tight and another droid was launched into the air because he couldn’t control the power of the hose. I thought this was unnecessary and while I know the show was more marketed towards children, it really takes you out of the belief that the Separatist droid army is in ANY way a competent rival to the clone troopers. Otherwise a good episode. 7/10

Rookies: Clones fighting their way out of a sticky situation

Episode 5: Rookies: A squad of rookie clone troopers are stationed in a listening post on a remote moon which is meant to give the planet, Kamino, home world of the clone troopers a warning if a Separatist fleet is on the way. Commander Cody and Captain Rex are on the way to inspect the listening post. A meteor shower arrives and the listening post raises its shields, but the meteor shower has some droid ships hiding in it that are full of commando droids. The droids gain access to the listening post in a brutal fashion and kill most of the clones including the sergeant. Four clones escape to the surface through an air vent. The droids take control of the listening post and contact Grievous, who makes his way to invade Kamino. The four clones who made it are unarmed and they aren’t sure what to do. A giant worm attacks them and kills another member of their squad, leaving only Hevy, Echo and Fives. Cody and Rex arrive, but the rookie clones have no way of contacting them, until they decide to use a flare. Cody and Rex land on the landing platform where they are met by a “clone” which is just a commando droid dressed like a clone and mimicking his voice. The two officers are suspicious of the trooper as he uses the phrase “roger, roger” which is something that only droids say. The officers see a flare going off behind them which confirms their suspicion and Rex shoots the droid in the head. This begins a firefight which ends with the clone ship destroyed. The officers meet with the Rookies and they formalise a plan to pose as a commando droid using the head of one of the droids to gain access to the listening post. The plan works and clones gain access. They take back the listening post but they can’t get rid of the ‘all clear’ signal being broadcast which is allowing Grievous to move ever closer to Kamino. Grievous sends reinforcements and the clones decide to destroy the facility. As the clones are escaping, Hevy realises that the remote detonator isn’t working and goes back to destroy the base manually, alerting the Republic that the Separatists are near, but killing himself. The Republic sends a fleet which forces Grievous to withdraw. Echo and Fives become members of the 501st legion.

This episode was more clone trooper orientated which I really appreciated as we got to see clones acting on their own without the aid of Jedi. I thought the episode had some pretty brutal scenes, especially for a “children’s” show. There is a scene where a wounded clone trooper is trying to crawl towards his friends before he is surrounded by commando droids and mercilessly shot to death by all of them. Another scene in which a clone gets eaten by a giant worm was also pretty shocking to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, these things do not phase me usually but I don’t expect to see them in a Star Wars show aimed for a younger audience. This episode for me really set the precedence of what to expect going forward and I was looking forward to it. ‘Rookies’ was primarily about the war which I wanted to see more of and I felt it was one of the better episodes in the series. A thoroughly enjoyable episode. 9/10

Downfall of a droid: Assassin droid attack!

Episode 6: Downfall of a droid: Anakin sets a trap for Grievous, luring him into an asteroid belt where Anakin has walkers hiding on the back of the asteroids. Between the fleet in front and being attacked from behind, Grievous’s fleet becomes confused, so Grievous abandons ship on his fighter being pursued by Anakin and Gold Squadron. A piece of shrapnel hits Anakin’s ship and he passes out. He wakes up on the Resolute, a Republic cruiser. He is told that he is lucky to be alive but R2-D2 was never found. He tells Kenobi that he needs to find the droid as he never wiped the memory banks and R2 still has all the plans and tactics of the Republic in his memory. Anakin, Ahsoka and a new astromech droid called R3-S6, dubbed ‘Goldie’, go looking for R2 in the debris of the battle. R2 is already picked up by a salvager, Gha Nachkt. Skywalker and Tano boards the freighter looking for R2, but Gha says he is not on board, even still he allows Anakin to take a look around. Anakin hears R2’s beeps and goes to get him but Goldie accidentally activates two assassin droids. The assassin droids are very skilled and extremely fierce but Anakin eventually beats them. Ahsoka tells Anakin that R2 isn’t there and they leave. Gha contacts Grievous telling him that he has the droid. Anakin has to scout to see if Grievous has any listening posts and Ahsoka tells him to bring Goldie so they can bond. While out there, Goldie makes a lot of errors and almost gets Anakin killed including alerting Grievous to his position and destroying his means of escape. Anakin is saved by Ahsoka in the Twilight and they escape though Anakin is not happy with Goldie.

It was interesting seeing a different side of Star Wars, being how the black market and salvagers work by going to scenes of space battles and picking up anything that is useful or valuable. The soundtrack in this episode is really interesting, it is sort of industrial and really fits with Gha’s ship, as his ship is dirty green and grey and there is no happiness or colour to his ship. The industrial music fits into the life of being a salvager, it’s all business. In saying that, the soundtrack to this episode is really good and one of my favourites in the series. It was exciting to see the assassin droids in action and in a way seeing how dangerous the Separatist droids can actually be if they were given half a chance. Yes, they were defeated but they gave as good as they got. Now my problem with this episode; the plot armour, oh my god the plot armour! If you don’t know what plot armour is, it’s basically when a character can’t die because they are too important to a story so they always get out of impossible situations. Now with that cleared up, this episode turns the plot armour up to eleven. So Goldie accidentally alerts Grievous to Anakin’s whereabouts, then the droid releases Anakin from his ONLY means of escape. Grievous shows up with two battle cruisers and launches EVERY fighter he has to take out Anakin. Not only does Anakin not get hit once, but Ahsoka shows up out of nowhere to rescue him in the Twilight, and hyper spaces out of there. Two battle cruisers and whole squads of fighters couldn’t hit Anakin once? I get it he’s a main character but at least make it somewhat believable. Otherwise, the episode was okay. 6/10

So that was the first six episodes. I will be continuing my review over the next while. I hope you enjoyed reading and as always, thanks for reading!

Tomb Raider (2013, Xbox One)

Lara Croft, One of the most recognisable names in gaming history. Mentioning her name or the games she is famous for, being Tomb Raider, stirs up feelings of adventure, danger, mystery and the need to explore. Ever since Lara Croft made her debut in 1996 with the original Tomb Raider, she has been an absolute powerhouse in the gaming industry. So, back in 2013 Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics decided to reboot our heroine and what a job they done.

Don’t lock the butler in the freezer!

Tomb Raider as I have said is known for its exploration and adventure and the reboot is no different. The game takes place on an island called Yamatai, off the coast of Japan. Yamatai and the surrounding area is known for being battered by storms, so exploration was never really an option before. This didn’t stop Lara and her crew. Saying that, during the game you will run into evidence of Portuguese traders, United States Marines and Imperial Japanese Army all being on this island at some point in history, though how they got there is a mystery you will have to uncover! The island was once ruled by a woman named Himiko. The tribe of people she ruled called her the Sun Queen because apparently she could control the weather. Himiko ended up dying which started a lot of crazy events on the island of Yamatai.

Lara sets out for Yamatai with her crew aboard a ship but along the way the ship is hit by a deadly storm which ends up capsizing and destroying the ship. Lara eventually washes up on a mysterious beach. Lara sees her crew on top of a hill and calls out for them before being punched and knocked unconscious by an unknown assailant. Lara awakens in a cave dangling in the air though she eventually escapes the cave to the outside, where the storm has calmed.

Lara eventually starts to wander around the harsh landscape of the island and finds a walkie talkie and a camcorder that shows Lara and her crew talking about the upcoming expedition on board the ship. After some more gameplay and scavenging, Lara finds her friend, Sam and a new person who calls himself Mathias. Mathias is injured and he uses a crutch to walk around. Sam, Lara and Mathias all sit around a campfire while Sam tells the story of the legend of Himiko. During this Lara goes to sleep, probably from exhaustion.

Sam and Lara: Best Friends Forever!

Lara wakes up to see that both Sam and Mathias are gone, but she eventually meets up with the rest of her crew but not before Lara nearly gets her foot amputated by a bear trap and eaten by a pack of wolves. Lara explains about Sam going missing and the group come to a decision that Lara and another crew member, Whitman, will go looking for yet another missing crew member called Roth while the rest of them go looking for Sam and Mathias.

While Whitman and Lara are searching they find a temple of sorts devoted to the worship of Himiko which confirms that they are indeed on the island of Yamatai. Inside they encounter what looks to be mercenary type men, and while Whitman has his gun pointed at them, he eventually drops his gun saying that he only wants peace, which ends up with Lara and Whitman becoming hostages to the mercenaries.

They don’t look too welcoming!

The group attempts an escape which forces the mercenaries to go after them, though Lara still has ropes around her hands which make her effectively useless. Lara has to sneak around all the mercenaries who are on the hunt for her and her group until she eventually gets caught by the head leader of this mercenary group. Lara and the leader have a bit of back and forth blows, the attacker drops a gun which Lara has to use to kill him. After trying to escape and killing some more mercenaries, Lara eventually finds her friend and mentor, Roth who is wounded.

Lara had to put this dog down!

Lara helps Roth to a safe location and Roth tells her that she needs to go and contact the outside world to get help. After some more camcorder watching to give more a background on the crew, Lara sets off on her travels. She eventually finds an old bunker that she hopes still has a way of communicating to the outside world. Lara, after killing a few more mercenaries makes it to the control room of the bunker, but nothing is working. Roth tells her she will have to climb the mast and manually communicate with the outside world through a radio on top of the mast. The mast is two things, extremely tall and extremely rusty, but Lara makes the climb anyway nearly killing herself once or twice. She eventually contacts the outside world and a plane comes to rescue them. But just as the plane gets close to the island, a storm brews up and lightning hits the plane, making it crash almost killing Lara in the process.

Lara tries to make her way to the crash site where she finds the pilot battling with mercenaries. Lara makes it just in time to see a mercenary stab and kill the pilot. Another pilot contacts Lara through the walkie talkie but he can’t hear Lara on his end. The pilot deploys smoke which Lara can see and she makes her way towards the pilot, though it ends up being a trap by the mercenaries, who are lead by Mathias, also they’re not mercenaries at all, they are a devout cult who worship Himiko and they call themselves, the Solarii Brotherhood. As Lara gets punched and almost knocked out, she witnesses what looks to be samurai slaughtering Lara’s attackers while the men scream about the Oni being there.

The Samurai called Oni

Lara wakes up hanging from the ceiling by her hands and surrounded by dead, rotting corpses all around her. Lara gets out of the ropes and falls on the ground and realises that the Oni are the ones who brought her here, and they are still here. Lara has to sneak around to escape the Oni, which she does. Lara makes it to a room with a few murals on the wall detailing how Himiko has to use a ritual called the Ascension to transfer her power from one vessel to another. While this is going on, the Solarii brotherhood catch up to Lara and chase her before alerting the Oni which ends up chasing all of them.

Lara eventually escapes from all the danger and is contacted through her walkie talkie by Sam who explains to her that she stole her walkie talkie off a guard and she is being held against her will and that the guards keep talking about fire rituals, when it dawns on Lara that Sam is to become the next vessel for Himiko. Sam tells Lara that she is locked in a Japanese temple which Lara says she is close to. Lara struggles to make herself towards the temple, even injuring herself on the way. Lara makes her way to the bridge of the temple but it is covered with guards. Roth tells Lara that he will cover her with a sniper rifle while she makes her way across the bridge, which she eventually does.

The journey to rescue a friend.

Inside, Lara sees that Mathias has Sam tied up with a stack of wood built around her. Mathias is about to perform the fire ritual in front of the cult. Lara attempts to free Sam but gets captured while Mathias lights the fire. The fire doesn’t hurt Sam though and a divine wind swoops down and puts out the fire. This proves to Mathias that Sam is indeed the chosen one, meant to be the new vessel for Himiko. Lara gets taken away by the guards where she sees that her crew are also captured.

Lara sees Whitman walking around the temple who explains to her that when the Solarii didn’t see him as a threat they didn’t bother with him and let him do his own thing. He said he knew the other members of the crew were captured but he couldn’t do anything for them. He told Lara to go and free Sam while he stays on lookout.

Lara rescues Sam but as they are leaving the temple, they see Whitman tied up who tells them to run as Mathias and the Solarii chase after them. The temple starts to break up in the ensuing battle and Sam and Lara get separated by a collapsed roof. Lara has to fight her way through all the guard in and outside the temple where there is a helicopter on the way to rescue the crew, to Lara’s horror. Lara sees that Roth is already on the helicopter, but she has no choice to jump from a platform onto it where she begs Roth to land the helicopter as the island won’t let anyone leave. The pilot refuses to land which leads to Lara drawing a gun on the pilot forcing him to land, before a lightning strike hits the helicopter and downs it anyway.

A leap of faith

Roth realises that Lara isn’t breathing and almost dies before reviving her. Lara is standing and hugging Roth before Mathias appears and throws an axe which Roth takes in the back to save Lara. Lara tells the rest of the crew to get to the wreckage of their former ship, the Endurance which washed up on the beach and she will meet them there. After some more exploring, Lara eventually meets up with the group who have found a boat that needs repairs. Suddenly, Whitman runs out of the forest screaming and shooting behind him, though no one is after him. Whitman says he was running for ages but Lara notices he is not even sweating.

Lara goes to the wreckage of the Endurance to find the tools needed to repair the boat. There, she is ambushed by more Solarii. She finds one of the crew members, Alex trapped under some wreckage which she can’t lift. Alex tells Lara to run while he shoots the fuel tank and kills himself and all of the Solarii attacking her, which she reluctantly does. Lara makes it back to the remaining crew with the tools but tells the crew that they can’t leave because the island won’t let them and that they need to face whatever is on the island. The crew bar Sam said they are leaving with or without Lara.

Lara goes to find out what is the problem on the island and sees a samurai who committed ritual suicide or seppuku. Inside the samurai’s sword hilt there is a note which tells the story of his failure to Himiko. Himiko’s vessel killed herself with Himiko’s soul still inside, so Himiko is trapped in a dead body looking for a way out. Because of this Himiko’s anger is causing the storms on the island. While Lara is making her way back to the crew, Sam contacts her that they are under attack by the Solarii. When she gets there, the crew tell her that Whitman took Sam back to Mathias.

Whitman, Why?!

When Mathias, Whitman and Sam get to the temple they see that it is guarded by samurai. Mathias tells Whitman to get and talk to the samurai and see if they will let them through, knowing full well the samurai will kill Whitman, which they do. Mathias uses this to run past the samurai with Sam. Lara sneaks her way in while having to contend with samurai and the divine wind of Himiko trying to stop her from making it to the temple. When Lara is inside she realises that Himiko is not transferring her power to vessels but transferring her soul which means she destroys the soul of the previous vessel.

Lara makes her way up to the top of the temple where the ritual is about to commence. There she in confronted by another Oni which she kills. Mathias begins the ritual and Lara gets into a fight with him which ends up with Mathias being killed by Lara repeatedly shooting him with two handguns as a tribute to the old Tomb Raider games. Lara stab Himiko through the heart which destroys Himiko and calms all the storms on the island and also, in turn saves Sam. Lara carries Sam back to the boat and the crew and Lara leave the island. END OF STORY.

The last shot of the game

Now to the game and all its qualities. This was an excellent action/adventure game. I had serious fun playing this from the moment I picked it up to when I left it down. There was so much to do from survival, hunting dangerous animals, crafting cool weapons and items, exploring captivating and interesting locations to fighting in tense and thrilling combat. The story really pulled me in and while some of it was quite obvious and done to death such as me knowing that Mathias was the bad guy from the get go and that Sam would have something to do with Himiko, the story still felt fresh and it done a really good job of pulling me in and keeping me interested.

The graphics were absolutely astounding. The landscape changes so much in this game from thick, dense jungles, to snowy mountain tops and with each place I was in, I felt like I was there. The dark, murky, water filled caves and the divine wind blasted mountain tops really came alive for me and just added to the excitement and wonder that was the locations in this game. The character models looked really excellent too with some of my favourite being Lara herself and the samurai. Graphically there is nothing bad I can say about this game.

The sounds themselves are fine, nothing to really speak about. Guns sound fine and the action scenes are top notch. The voice acting is really on par. Camilla Luddington does a great job of voicing Lara. She has a compassionate and caring voice, but can be strong and fierce at the same time. I also have to mention that Robert Craighead done a great job voicing the antagonist Mathias.

The soundtrack, composed by Jason Graves, whose work includes Dead Space, Until Dawn and the Man of Medan, really knocked it out of the park with the soundtrack. There are some very soulful pieces of music in it, to action packed and exhilarating tracks that are used at the right time to convey what is happening. The soundtrack isn’t too in your face either and it allows you to enjoy it without becoming the main thing you’re focusing on in the cutscenes or gameplay.

Tomb Raider also has a multiplayer mode which seems to stem away from the usual tropes of death match games. The multiplayer seems to rely more on exploration, traps and picking your opportunities to strike.

Overall a really remarkable game and an outstanding reboot to the series, which done so well that it lead on to two sequels which I will be covering at some point. A well though out story story, beautiful locations and graphics, tense combat and action and an absolute thrill to play from start to finish.

So after all of that I think it is finally time to get into the scoring of the game:

Graphics: Fascinating and captivating locations. Characters and other assets look great: 9/10

Sound: A very interesting soundtrack and one that knows when and where to be effective: 8/10

Game play: Good exploration, a bit of a collectathon which can go on a bit, tense action. Overall very enjoyable and appealing gameplay: 9/10

Worth: Yes! An excellent and very faithful reboot. 10/10

Story: Good story, not great though with the twists being quite obvious, but it’s still interesting. 7/10

Total: 86/100 B+

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019, Xbox One)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare cover art

The Call of Duty franchise is one of the biggest, if not the biggest franchise of first-person shooter games in the history of video games. From a World War Two shooter made in 2003 to modern combat, the Vietnam war and futuristic sci-fi story lines, Call of Duty has done it all in the first-person shooter genre. Back in 2007, Call of Duty changed the world of first-person shooter gaming with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare raised the bar for what other first-person shooter games should play like and a lot of games followed suit. The Call of Duty franchise eventually became very stale with the same old, same old being done with every game and nothing changing. But in 2017, after thirteen main installments in the Call of Duty franchise, there was new life with the release of Call of Duty: World War Two. People were excited again for Call of Duty and I think that Activision, the publishers of the Call of Duty franchise has seen that people wanted more Call of Duty games that were in the same style of the older games, so Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot came around in 2019 and boy, what a game it was.

“What the hell kind of name is Soap, eh?”

The game is set in 2019 and it starts with you playing as a CIA officer named Alex. Alex and a squad of marines are trying to seize a shipment of dangerous chemical gases headed for Urzikstan. The marines find enemies which turn out to be Russian soldiers and after killing them they eventually find the gas, but as they’re leaving the compound, unknown assailants ambush them and kill the marines. Alex is staring at the assailants and one of them realises that they weren’t shooting at Russian soldiers like they thought, but American marines. The assailants panic and escape with the gas when they find out Americans were involved.

Alex’s handler in the CIA, Station Chief Kate Laswell realises that this situation is bad and the Russians are annoyed that their soldiers have been killed by Americans so to de-escalate the situation, she brings in an expert and veteran soldier, SAS Captain John Price.

Breach and clear

In London, while the SAS are moving through the streets in a vehicle, suicide bombers blow themselves up all around Piccadilly Circus, killing a lot of innocent civilians. The Suicide bombers were from a terrorist organisation known as Al-Qatala. SAS Sergeant Kyle Garrick, along with Captain Price travel through the streets of London killing terrorists insurgents who are gunning people down in London. Price is impressed by Garrick and wants him to go to Urzikstan with him. In the mean time while all of this is going on, Alex is sent to Urzikstan to meet with the rebels who are trying to overthrow the invading Russian army lead by General Roman Barkov. Alex meets Farah, the leader of the rebels and she agrees to help Alex track down the missing chemical gases as long as Alex helps to take out the Russian army and remove them from Urzikstan.

A main member of Al-Qatala becomes exposed, Omar “The Wolf” Sulaman after a raid on a house led by Garrick and the SAS. They find out that the location of The Wolf is in a hospital in Urzikstan which Alex and the marines raid. They find and apprehend The Wolf, but with this another piece is put onto the chess board with Jamal “The Butcher” Rahar, another member of Al-Qatala. After The Butcher realises that The Wolf is in American custody in the American Embassy, he launches an all out attack against the embassy. Though the SAS, American and rebel forces try to hold onto the The Wolf and keep him in custody, they fail to do so and he is broken out.

Alex, Price, Garrick and Farah

While Farah and the rebels set up an ambush to recapture The Wolf on a highway, the Russians attack both the rebel forces and Al-Qatala. It is here that it is revealed that Farah’s brother, Hadir was the one in the beginning of the game who ambushed the American marines and stole the gas. He told Farah that he wanted to use it to drive away the Russians and Al-Qatala. Hadir sets off the gas and kills all the Russian and Al-Qatala soldiers in the area but he almost killed Farah and Alex also. Hadir then escapes.

The game then goes back to 1999 and it shows Farah and Hadir as children when Russia invades Urzikstan. The streets were bombed and their mother was killed in the bombing. Farah was trapped under a pile of rubble but she was rescued. The Russians then start the invasion properly and Farah’s father brings her home, where Hadir is waiting. A Russian soldier breaks in and kills their father leaving Farah and Hadir to fend for themselves. After a game of cat and mouse throughout the house, the children eventually kill the Russian soldier and attempt to escape through the streets of Urzikstan. They eventually make it outside the city where they see a Russian truck with a few Russian soldiers standing outside it. Through teamwork, Farah and Hadir deal with the Russian soldiers and make it to the truck, but as they enter, Barkov catches them and imprisons them for ten years.

Urzikstan left in ruin by the Russians

Farah rises through the ranks in the rebel forces while in prison and with the help of a younger Captain Price, Farah and Hadir break out of prison. Back in the present, Hadir with seemingly nowhere else to go joins forces with Al-Qatala to fight the Russian invasion. Farah and Price find out where The Wolf is hiding, infiltrate his compound and they end up killing him once and for all. Alex is told by Kate that because the gas is still out there, the rebel forces are deemed a terrorist organisation by the American government. Alex is absolutely outraged by this and vows to stay in Urzikstan to aid the fight with Farah.

With Intel that Russia is about to be attacked by Al-Qatala and Hadir, the SAS lead by Price heads to St. Petersburg in Russia. While there they meet up with an old acquaintance of Price’s named, Nikolai. Nikolai has information on The Butcher which eventually leads to his capture by the SAS. The Butcher refuses to cooperate with Price, even under interrogation so Price uses The Butchers wife and child as leverage and eventually he complies. The Butcher tells them that Hadir is on his way to attack and kill General Barkov at his estate in Moldova. Price and Garrick find Hadir at the estate and he tells them about the gas factory that is owned by Barkov, but Kate Laswell drops down and tells Price that Hadir is wanted by the Russian government. Price hands over Hadir but keeps the Intel on the gas factory.

With everyone together including help from Laswell, they all converge and attack Barkov’s gas factory. Nikolai brought explosives to use to destroy the gas factory but in the battle the detonator gets damaged and the explosives have to be set off manually. Alex volunteers to stay behind and set off the explosives. While all of this is going on, Barkov attempts to leave the factory by helicopter but Farah catches up with him and eventually kills him, finishing this once and for all. After all of this, Farah, Price and the rest of the allied forces leave the factory as Alex, sacrificing himself detonates the explosives.

At the end, Barkov was disowned by the Russian government. Captain Price meets with Laswell and tells her that he wants to set up a new task force for called Task Force 141 to deal with any future problems and one in particular called Victor Zakhaev. Price shows Laswell some profiles of people he wants on this task force and they are as follows: Garrick, John “Soap” McTavish and Simon “Ghost” Riley. Zakhaev along with Soap and Ghost are all characters from the previous Modern Warfare games. END OF STORY.

Going dark!

So onto the game, the game was developed by Infinity Ward, who developed all the other Modern Warfare games. The game play itself had me feeling strange. In one way it felt like every other Call of Duty game I ever played. It was fast, a lot of fun, very fluid and an enjoyable experience, though done to death. But in another way, it felt like Call of Duty upgraded. The atmosphere was a lot more tense, the combat felt more dangerous and threatening and because of all of that, the game play felt a lot more exciting. Some of the missions such as “Going Dark” and “Clean House” were some of the most intense first-person shooter missions I have ever played in a video game and they had the hair on the back of my neck completely standing. I was on the edge of my seat and totally immersed in the missions and trying my hardest not to make mistakes and kill innocent civilians. This level of intensity and detail are some things that I definitely feel are needed in a modern combat war game setting.

Graphically the game looked absolutely stunning. The character models were beautifully and very highly detailed. A new engine was used for this game which allowed better lighting, more detailed environments and ray tracing. The landscapes were great looking especially Piccadilly Circus in London. During that mission, with all the chaos and noise, explosions and other things going on, it gave me a slight idea what an actual attack like this would be like, not that I would want to know, but it seemed eerily realistic.

Piccadilly attack

The music in the game composed by Sarah Schachner is absolutely incredible. I loved the soundtrack from the first moment I heard. Their is an element of seriousness and sadness to the main theme song of the game which I feel Call of Duty was sorely lacking over the last few games. When you hear the main theme in this game it gives you the feeling of “take this seriously because it is a serious subject matter” and I did and from taking it seriously I enjoyed the game a lot. I got all this just from the main theme song, the rest of the soundtrack is equally as epic and thought provoking and something that I thoroughly enjoyed while playing the game or just doing my own thing.

Apart from the main story there are also spec ops missions which is a multiplayer cooperative objective based game mode. It follows on from the death of The Wolf from the main story and it’s all about a new leader taking over Al-Qatala and how a combined force of the best fighters around the world called the armistice are coming together to stop Al-Qatala. Other than that, there is the multiplayer mode with Death match, Domination and other such game modes, the bread and butter of Call of Duty games. It’s fine, it’s fun and it is pretty enjoyable but still very same old, same old.

So after all of that I think it is finally time to get into the scoring of the game:

Graphics: Beautifully detailed, very realistic and amazing lighting 10/10

Sound: Fantastic soundtrack full of thought provoking tracks and the sounds of the game are pretty awesome too. 10/10

Game play: Good gun play, fast combat, fun and quite tense but still nothing new 9/10

Worth: Yes, it is worth it even just for the Modern Warfare story line. If you’re looking to play online any other COD game would do the same job. 8/10

Story: Pretty good story with an interesting ending, leaving me wanting more. 7/10

Total: 88/100 B+

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!

Bioshock (2016, Xbox One)

The beginning of an amazing journey

Bioshock, one of the best first person shooter/role playing games of all time was released in 2007 to an overwhelming critical acclaim. The hellish underwater city of Rapture is known far and wide throughout pop culture and the iconic character of the fearsome big daddy has become one of the most recognisable and popular characters in video game history. Bioshock changed the face of gaming and gave us a memorable story line, gruesome atmosphere, exciting action and so much variety that two peoples play styles are rarely ever the same.

Bioshock was created by Irrational games and 2K Marin and was published by 2K games. The story was written by Ken Levine, who previously worked on Thief: The Dark Project and System Shock 2, two more excellent games if you get a chance to try them out. As I mentioned, Bioshock was released in 2007 but a remastered collection was released in 2016 which I will be talking about. The other games in the collection are Bioshock 2 and Bioshock: Infinite. I will be talking about each game separately.

Would you kindly heed my warning?

The story of Bioshock is set in 1960. The name of your character is Jack, and Jack was just in a plane crash in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. As Jack is drowning he notices a giant lighthouse in the middle of the ocean. As you reach the lighthouse you notice a submarine which takes you down underwater to the sprawling and beautiful city of Rapture. Rapture was built by Andrew Ryan during the 1940’s as a break away city from societies constraints. No more religion, no more ethics when it comes to science, no more government telling you what you can and can’t do. It was meant to be a paradise to people who wanted to break away from the norm, it was meant to be a Utopia.

Welcome to hell more like

As Jack reaches Rapture he starts to realise there is something very, very wrong with this place. The citizens of Rapture have all become drug addicted genetically altered mutants called Splicers. The drug that is going around Rapture is called ADAM. It was taken from sea slugs and it was found that it had properties that gave people fantastic powers such as setting things on fire, creating electricity from their finger tips and sending people into an uncontrollable rage.

Splicers

A criminal named Frank Fontaine found a way to harvest ADAM by putting the sea slugs into little girls which were transformed into ‘little sisters’. These little sisters could around to dead bodies and with a special needle they would extract the ADAM from the corpses. Frank Fontaine was making money hand over fist doing this. Andrew Ryan did not like this at all, so he launched an all out attack on Fontaine and killed him. Ryan took over the whole operation, but he also made some genetically altered freaks and stuck them in diving suits, this would be called ‘big daddies’ and these would protect the little sisters through the horrors of Rapture.

From the ashes of Fontaines empire a man came about named Atlas. Atlas is a down to earth, kind Irish man who stirred the working class folk of Rapture to rebel against Ryan. Ryan became worried and created the splicers to protect him and his city. During this, Atlas’s family gets kidnapped by Ryan and this is where Jack comes in, he must get them back.

Thuggish Splicer

As Jack makes his way through the depressing and doomed city of Rapture he meets all kinds of people who have completely lost their minds and need to be put down. There are voice recordings left all over Rapture which were recorded by the people while they still had some semblance of sanity and they paint a bleak picture of Rapture going from a Utopian paradise to a depraved and degenerate hell, full of freaks, lunatics and vile people and what’s worse, they have no restraints.

Atlas keeps asking Jack would he kindly carry out some missions, as I said he is a very polite man. These missions go from killing super powered splicers to getting certain objects and opening certain areas. During the game Jacks also speaks to Doctor Brigid Tenenbaum, one of the founders of the ADAM. She begs Jack not to hurt the little sisters, which you have a choice to do during the game. If you kill a little sister outright you get a lot of ADAM which can be used to buy more powers for Jack or you can choose to let them live which gives you less ADAM but at some points during the game you’re given presents by the little sisters in the form of ADAM or other useful stuff.

A little sister and big daddy

Later on in the game Jack finds Ryan. He is in his office playing golf without a care in the world. Ryan tells Jack that he’s his illegitimate son and that Atlas had him mind controlled to kill Ryan. The phrase “would you kindly?” was the trigger phrase that but Jack under Atlas’s control. Ryan tells Jack to kill him by constantly saying “A man chooses, a slave obeys!”. Jack kills Ryan and Atlas reveals that he is actually Frank Fontaine. He tries to kill Jack but Tenenbaum saves him. Not only does she save Jack but she removed some of the mental control that Fontaine has over him.

Fontaine cranked up to 11

Tenenbaum tells Jack to go and deal with Fontaine and take him out once and for all. As Jack reaches Fontaine he finds out that Fontaine has injected himself with a cocktail of powers and he is now a complete genetic freak. The fight does not last long and Jack is helped by the little sisters who rush Fontaine and stab him to death with multiple needles. Jack takes the little sisters and leaves Rapture for good. The good ending is where the little sisters get to have a nice normal life. Get educated, find love, find happiness and on Jack’s deathbed they all come to him to say thank you for giving them the chance of a normal life. The bad ending is Jack takes over Rapture and unleashes the splicers on the rest of the world and it leaves with an ominous ending focusing on a nuclear warhead. END OF STORY.

Now onto the actual game itself. Bioshock, when I first played it, blew me away, I mean it completely caught me off guard. I thought it was going to be another bog standard horror game, which don’t me wrong I love horror games but some of them are very, paint by numbers shall we say. Bioshock was not like that at all. The story was exciting and interesting. I loved the fact that the bigger picture is told through voice recordings and conversations through out the game. There is a whole world underneath the ocean and some of the tales you hear and very human. Lost love, problems with the boss, people feeling very worried about their looks, just common every day problems. I think this was amazing because it showed Rapture as a lived in city before everything went tits up.

The combat in this game is fluid, exciting, sleek and tactical. You will be dealing with a whole myriad of enemies that all have different ways of dealing with and different weaknesses and strengths and you’ll be fighting them all at the same time. This means your combat and the way you fight has to change and evolve all the time which keeps the game interesting.

The plasmids also change the combat up big time. The plasmids are just another name for powers and as I said earlier you can set enemies on fire, you can freeze them, shock them to death, throw insects at them and so, so, sooooooo much more. This keeps the combat versatile and can make it quite exciting.

Onto the graphics, listen I’ll put it to you this way, I was impressed with the graphics back in 2007 so in 2016 with the remaster I was still bloody impressed. The game looks absolutely beautiful from the 1940’s inspired decor to looking out a window and literally seeing the vast ocean and everything in it absolutely blew me away. The monsters and enemies were stylish and creepy looking and big daddy has got to be one of the coolest looking enemies in video game history. The dark, dreary halls and the utter chaos of broken pipes and destroyed places really adds to the atmosphere and gives you a taste of the chaos that choked and ultimately killed Rapture.

The sound, again my word is the sound good. You can hear old music throughout the game and the soundtrack is made up from real bands and groups from that era. Also listening to the sounds of big daddies walking through Rapture and the sounds of the ocean in certain parts really adds to the atmosphere of the game. The casual conversations of some of the splicers really gives you a look into what they think is going on and some of them even sound normal, if not a little messed up…well maybe a lot messed up.

So with that I’m onto the scores now:

Graphics: Impressive, fantastic styles and design and messed up monsters and atmosphere 10/10

Sound: Amazing soundtrack from the era, humorous but dark conversations that compliment the overall story and eerie ambiance throughout 10/10

Game play: Fast game play, fun, destructive and ever changing 10/10

Worth: Bloody hell yes! If you’ve never played Bioshock, go now and play it. 10/10

Story: Amazing story from the start to the finish! Utterly fantastic story telling that keeps you wanting more 10/10

Total: 100/100 A+

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!

Resident Evil 3: Remake (2020, Xbox One)

Resident Evil 3: Remake

In 2020 the world of gaming got what they asked for, a remake of the third Resident Evil game. Yes, Capcom released the remake for Resident Evil: Nemesis, the one that has you face off against one of the most badass tyrants in Resident Evil history. You play as Jill Valentine, our heroine from the first Resident Evil game as you try and survive a zombie outbreak on the streets of Raccoon City. With the help of Umbrella security agent, Carlos Oliveira, Jill must succeed against hordes of the undead and Nemesis who throughout the entire game is always hot on her heels.

Arghhhhh! (Zombie groan)

Resident Evil 3 is set around the same time as Resident Evil 2. Jill Valentine is in her apartment still traumatised after the events of the first game. Suddenly and out of nowhere, Jill is attacked in her apartment by a huge creature called a tyrant. The specific designation of this tyrant is Nemesis and it’s job? To hunt down all the S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) members in Raccoon City and Jill is one of those members. Jill has to run through her apartment building and try and escape from the frightful monster that is Nemesis. Jill eventually escapes trapping Nemesis in the apartment building and from here she meets Brad Vickers, another member of S.T.A.R.S.

The BBEG himself, Nemesis.

As Jill and Brad make their way through Raccoon City the reality of what is going on really sets in as there are zombies all over the place and people are in a panic. Jill and Brad make it to a bar but zombies are trying to get into the building, while trying to barricade the door, Brad gets bitten by a zombie and tells Jill to leave, which she does reluctantly. Jill finds a car on top of a parking garage, but Nemesis shows up again. Jill uses the car to drive herself and Nemesis off the roof of the garage. Jill wakes up to see that Nemesis is starting to pursue her again and this is where Carlos shows up with a rocket launcher and hits Nemesis a number of times rescuing Jill.

Carlos bringing the heat!

Carlos brings Jill down into a subway where there are other Umbrella agents, Mikhail, Nicholai, Tyrell and a group of civilians. The Umbrella agents plan to use the subway to escape from Raccoon City but the power for the subway is shut off. Jill has to make her way through Raccoon City to turn the power back on and plot out a route for the subway, which she does while trying to escape from Nemesis. Jill makes her way back to the subway station only to realise that she is still being pursued, so Jill tries to buy the Umbrella team some time by going down to the sewers.

Dark and grimy sewers

Jill has to make her way through the sewers while dealing with zombies and other sewer monsters that have massive mouths that can kill you in one hit. As Jill goes to escape the sewers through a hatch, Nemesis catches her and almost ignites her with a flamethrower. Jill has to run through a building site to try and escape Nemesis as he tries to burn down the entire building site. Jill eventually has to fight Nemesis on top of the building site and when she defeats him, she makes her way back down to the city streets. As she is making her way back to the subway, guess who shows up? Yep, Nemesis! Jill must dodge a rocket launcher wielding Nemesis. Jill again escapes and makes her way to the subway which starts to leave with everyone on board bar Carlos and Tyrell who have another job to do. As the subway is moving, Nemesis attacks the subway killing all civilians on board. Jill tries to escape but Nicholai locks the door behind him, locking Jill and Mikhail in with Nemesis. Nemesis pulls Mikhail out of the carriage almost killing him but Mikhail sacrifices himself, blowing himself up destroying the carriage that Nemesis is on but causes the carriage that Jill is on to crash, knocking Jill unconscious.

Nemesis on subway

From here you play Carlos looking for a doctor named Nathaniel Bard, who is rumoured to have the vaccine for the T-Virus. Carlos and Tyrell make their way to the Raccoon Police Department where you see Lieutenant Marvin Branagh (Yes, that Marvin) getting bitten by zombie Brad (Yes, that Brad) which explains how Marvin is bitten when Leon meets him in Resident Evil 2 Remake. Carlos and Tyrell have to make their way through the Police Station looking for Dr. Nathaniel Bard until they come across a video call where Dr. Bard explains that he is actually in a hospital surrounded by creatures and that Umbrella are killing all the researchers and doctors.

Poor Brad, what a way to go

From here you take control of Jill again and she is underground, from here you kill a few zombies until you make your way above ground where you have to fight who again? Who was it? I can’t seem to remember his name, something beginning with N I believe…oh right, Nemesis. You defeat Nemesis for the 50th time so far but not before he hits Jill with a stinger which infects her. As Carlos makes his way to the hospital, Carlos spots Jill and brings her to the hospital and it is swarming with zombies and other nasty creatures.. Going through the hospital Carlos has to kill a lot of zombies, and I mean a lot to find Dr. Bard. Carlos eventually does find him, dead! Yes, Bard was murdered and it is here that Carlos finds a video of Bard saying that Umbrella developed the virus and wanted Bard to make a vaccine, but then they done a complete turn around and wanted to destroy the vaccine and all research for it. Carlos finds the vaccine and gives it to Jill. Tyrell bursts through the door where he shows Carlos a news broadcast that says that Raccoon City is completely overrun and the city will be destroyed by a missile strike in the morning. While this is happening a horde of zombies break into the hospital and Carlos has to defend Jill.

Hospital being overrun

Jill eventually wakes up and realises Carlos is gone. She meets Tyrell who tells Jill that Carlos is gone underground because Dr. Bard stockpiled a lot of the vaccine. Jill realises that Carlos needs help while Tyrell will try and contact someone to stop the missile strike. Jill makes her way underground where there are a lot more zombies to kill. As she makes her way through, Tyrell eventually follows her down and explains that he got through to the government. He tells Jill that if they can deliver the vaccine to the government then they will call off the missile strike. As Jill and Tyrell go to find the vaccine, a heavily mutated Nemesis attacks both of them and kills Tyrell.

Jill searching for the vaccine

Eventually Jill finds the vaccine but Nicholai appears and takes it off her, Jill pleads with Nicholai not to take the vaccine but Nicholai says that he wants Jill to fight Nemesis and he will record it and sell the footage for the combat data and if she puts on a good enough show, he might give her back the vaccine, forcing her to fight Nemesis again. Jill beats Nemesis using acid and basically dissolving him. As Jill chases Nicholai, the final form of Nemesis is shown as a massive tentacle monster. Jill must defeat Nemesis one more time, but this time with a rail gun. Jill beats Nemesis, for good! and both Jill and Carlos catch up to Nicholai who is just about to leave on a helicopter. Carlos and Nicholai get into a fist fight and Carlos restrains Nicholai which gives Jill a chance to shoot him. Carlos and Jill eventually leave on the chopper and Nicholai is left in the city where the missile strike is just about to impact.

Goodbye Raccoon City

So now onto the game play. The game play is pretty good, but I felt it was missing the atmosphere of Resident Evil 2 Remake. The openness of the game just made fighting the zombies a lot easier I found and with that the zombies became less scary and threatening. Now don’t get me wrong, I still had a ton of fun with the game, but there were a lot of sequences where I could just walk around things and that would be that. Also Nemesis. Nemesis. Nemesis. Nemesis. What can I say? Was he as scary as Mr. X? That’s a big no. Nemesis was more of an annoyance to me than anything. I never found him that threatening throughout the game, just another obstacle to get through and that is very disappointing seeing as he is pretty much the hook of the entire game.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some sequences that I found deeply chilling, such as going back to the Police Department and the Hospital. Both those chapters were pretty nerve wracking because I was enclosed again in narrow corridors and tight rooms, which made every zombie fight pretty exciting, but other than that I pretty much walked though the game.

The game keeps the same inventory management system from RE2: Remake, which was fine with me because I liked that system. Again you also had to find hip pouches to increase your inventory slots. The combat was fluid and fun and exciting when I did decide to fight enemies. The zombies were quite tough again, no one shot to the head on these zombies, so the game made sure that you used bullets wisely. Overall I did have an enjoyable experience playing it.

Uh-oh

The lighting! Oh the lighting! The lighting was so incredibly atmospheric. There are scenes where you are running through alley ways and you would see a hard shadow of Nemesis behind you chasing you. The dark empty streets lit up by some street lamps and burning cars and barrels, like RE2: Remake really add to the impact of what is going on, but in some cases it does a better job because you are outside a lot more in this game. The game is full of beautiful, realistic and very fluid graphics and atmospheric lighting. Definitely one to play with the lights off.

The soundtrack, same as RE:2 Remake is absolutely unreal. From unnerving, depressing and stark songs that really drive home that you are in a city full of the undead to peaceful soundtracks that have a melancholic undertone to tell you that while you are safe now, you still must go outside. The boss soundtracks are really exciting too and really add to the urgency of trying to defeat Nemesis, but knowing in the back of your head that you are only going to slow him down, that he can’t be truly stopped.

So let’s get into the scoring:

Graphics: Realistic, fluid and overall supremely impressive 10/10

Sound: Varied and exciting soundtrack. Everything fits and the right music is used at the right times. 10/10

Game play: Great game play but I found it too easy at parts. Still very enjoyable. 8/10

Worth: Oh yeah! A very enjoyable horror experience and especially for those who love zombies. You also get Resident Evil Resistance free with it, which is a 4v1 online multiplayer game. While it’s not my cup of tea, it’s still nice to get an extra game. 10/10

Story: The story was good, not great. Nemesis felt like a bit of a filler to be quite honest and overall I enjoyed it, but it is forgettable. 7/10

Total: 90/100 A

I hope you enjoyed my review and as always, thanks for reading!